Top-seeded West Texas A&M looked every bit the part of the South Central Regional Tournament favorite Saturday dropping No. 8 seed Texas A&M-Kingsville 78-56 before 1,679 fans in the first United Bank Center.
WT rolled to a 38-22 halftime lead and was never challenged in the second half advancing to Sunday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinals against a familiar Lone Star Conference foe in Angelo State.
The Buffs (26-6) showed a balanced scoring attack as Kingsville struggled all game to shut down that offense with six WT players scoring between and 15 and 10 points.
Leading the way for WT was the LSC player of the year senior guard Julius Brown with 15 points, followed by junior guard Zach Toussaint’s 14, junior Addison Wallace and senior Damion Thornton with 12 apiece, while juniors Larry Wise and Ryland Holt each scored 10.
The Buffs were potent from long range with 15 of its 28 field goals arriving from beyond the 3-point arc. Toussaint led the way with four 3-pointers while Brown and Wallace each made a trio of threes.
The Buffs took the lead for good at 18-15 on a Thornton 3-pointer that was part of a 14-0 run for WT netting a 27-15 lead with 6:57 to play on a Holt layup. Thornton also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for his double-double.
Kingsville had lost to the Buffs at home way back on Dec. 8 in a close one 71-65. But after the 10-minute mark of the first half this one was all Buffs ending Kingsville’s season at 21-12.
Kingsville was led in scoring by Isaiah Payne’s 14 points, while Sammy Brooks topped the Javelinas in rebounds with 10.
WT meets up with Angelo State and former WT assistant coach Vinay Patel in the regional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the First United Bank Center.
No. 4 seed Angelo State (26-6) defeated No. 5 seed Colorado Mesa 72-57 in Saturday’s late semifinal. Mesa out of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference ended its season at 25-6.
This will mark the second time in seven days and fourth time this season WT has met up with Angelo State.
The Buffs and coach Tom Brown knocked off the Rams last Sunday in the wild LSC finals winning 64-63 after trailing by four points with six seconds to play. During regular season LDC play the two teams each won on its homecourt.
In one of Saturday’s other semifinals No. 2 seed Fort Lewis (29-3) had no problem with No. 7 seed Lubbock Christian coasting to a 97-65 win. Former Palo Duro star Akuel Kot was brilliant scoring 31 points making 13-of-17 field goal attempts and adding a game-high seven rebounds.
The opening semifinal on Saturday was an all-RMAC semifinal meeting with No. 6 seed Black Hills State pulling of somewhat of an upset over No. 3 seed Colorado School of Mines 68-48. Mines (26-6) led 31-29 at halftime but Black Hills State (26-5) dominated the second half outscoring Mines 39-17. It was third time this year Black Hills had beaten Mines.
Fort Lewis and Black Hills State will open Sunday’s semifinals squaring off at 5:00 p.m.
The two semifinal winners advance to South Central Regional finals 7 p.m. Tuesday in the First United Bank Center.