ECU Sports Information Director
STEPHENVILLE, TEXAS – The East Central University men’s basketball team dropped its first game of the 2012-13 campaign to No. 17 Tarleton State, 62-72, in the final game of the Taco Bell Texan Tip-Off Classic at Wisdom Gym.
The Tigers (2-1) were led by junior Jason Williams, who tallied a career-best 11 points for his second-consecutive game with a double-digit point total. Williams also added a team-best six rebounds and was rewarded with all-tournament honors.
Juniors Colby Carr and Chris Fisher also added double-digit point totals, with 11 and 10 respectively.
“I told the team in the locker room that there is a way to win and a way to lose and tonight we lost battling to the very end and I am proud,” said head coach Mac McConnell. “I knew we would not be undefeated this season and we have a long road ahead of us. We battled hard and we just need to learn from this and get ready for St. Gregory’s.”
ECU opened the game with a 5-0 run, with all five points coming from Fisher, in the first two minutes. The Texans (2-1) countered with a 5-0 run of their own to tie game with three minutes off the clock. The teams traded points for the next 6:30 before a missed free throw by the Tigers gave TSU an opening.
With just over 10 minutes left in the first stanza, the Texans took advantage of several fouls by ECU and went on a 7-0 run from free throws to take a 12-20 advantage. TSU added a 14-6 run until 2:30 remained on the clock to push the advantage to 18-34. The Tigers fought harder in the final minutes of the half and went into the locker room trailing 24-38.
ECU out-scored the Texans in the second half, 38-34, but the deficit was too much to overcome. The Texans lead by as many as 20 points in the second half, but the Tigers battled hard in the last 3:15 with a 13-3 run to finish the game trailing 62-72.
Fouls and rebounding were the keys to the game, with TSU earning clear advantages in both categories. The Tigers committed 32 fouls to the Texans 16 and were out-rebounded 27-36. The teams were pretty even in shooting percentage (45.1% to 48.8%), with ECU making three more shots and one more from beyond the arc. The Tigers hit 58.8% of their free throws and the Texans hit 61.4%, but the difference was in the number of attempts. TSU went 27-of-44 from the charity stripe and ECU was 10-of-17.
The Tigers will remain on the road for the final of three-straight road games, Tuesday, Nov. 20 at St. Gregory’s at 8 p.m. The game will end the home-and-home series with the Cavaliers for the season, with ECU having earned a 73-54 win Nov. 10 at the Kerr Activities Center.