Tarleton State (19-5, 7-2) survived a stretch of more than 13 minutes without a field goal and overcame a 33-20 deficit for a 56-52 win against West Texas A&M (13-11, 4-5) in Lone Star Conference South Division action in front of 2,914 at Wisdom Gym Saturday night.
The win keeps the Texans, ranked No. 6 in the South Central Region, tied atop the South standings with Midwestern State. It also gives Tarleton a 17-16 advantage in its all-time series with WT.
"This was a gut check," Tarleton coach Lonn Reisman said. "West Texas A&M has a good team and they came in here playing well. It took a lot of guts to come from behind like we did."
Tarleton used a 10-0 run to cut its deficit to 33-30 after a Corin Henry 3-point bomb with 12:06 left, and finally grabbed a lead when a trey by Effran Bryant made it 42-40 at the 6:27 mark.
Tarleton moved ahead by six on two occasions, first on free throws by Darrion Washington with 3:48 remaining, and again on charity shots by Bryant with 1:16 to play.
WT could get no closer than four the rest of the way, and Henry and Bryant combined to hit Tarleton's final five free throws to put the game away.
A late 3-ball by WT's Nick Burns and a layin by Bijan Dotson didn't matter.
The Texans outscored WT 29-12 at the free throw line, attempting 42 free throws to just 17 for the Buffs.
Tarleton outscored the Buffs 36-19 over the final 16:07.
Tarleton was led by Henry with 14 points, including a 9-12 performance from the line. Jeremiah Wilson scored 11 for the Texans and Devon Hills added 10. Effran Bryant had seven while Donta Smith scored six, grabbed six boards and dished out three assists before fouling out late.
Dotson led WT with 16 points and 10 boards. Burns scored 14.
The Buffaloes appeared to have a comfortable advantage when Dotson scored six quick points to lead WT to an 11-0 run to begin the second half. It was 33-20 before Smith finally broke a long Texan field goal drought.
Tarleton did not hit a field goal in the final 9:16 of the first half or the first 3:53 of the second, going a total of 13:09 without a basket from the floor.
Neither team shot well in the opening half, when the Texans hit only 25 percent from the floor and WT connected on just 29.2 percent. By the end of the night, WT still held a slight advantage, hitting 37 percent to Tarleton's 33.3.
The Buffs scored five straight points to grab a 20-15 lead, and were still ahead 22-20 at the break.