By BRAD KEITH
Effran Bryant hit five 3-point bombs and scored 21 points Tuesday night as Tarleton State (20-5, 8-2) won its third straight in a 70-60 defeat of Abilene Christian (8-16, 1-8) at Kimbrell Arena Tuesday night.
The victory gave Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman his 11th 20-win season at the school. Before he took over the program in 1988, the Texans had never won 20 games in a season since becoming a senior college in 1961. The have won 20 games seven times in the last nine years.
Joining Bryant in double figures for Tarleton were Devon Hills with 16 and Jeremiah Wilson with 15. Wilson also grabbed nine rebounds.
A 9-0 ACU run tied the contest at 53-53 with 6:13 to go, but Tarleton answered with eight straight points - five by Bryant and three by Hills - to regain control.
Bryant hit a pair of free throws with 1:46 left to make it 66-56, and ACU got no closer than six in the final moments.
The Texans had to overcome a poor start that saw them fall behind 9-2 just more than six minutes into the game.
Tarleton spent almost nine minutes chipping away at the lead until a jumper by Warren Webb tied the score at 20. Hills put the Texans on top 22-20 moments later, and after an ACU free throw, Bryant drilled a 3-pointer to make it 25-21.
The Texans led 35-31 at the break and pushed the lead to 10 on two occasions in the first eight minutes of the second half before ACU rallied.
Tarleton, which was already assured a spot in the Lone Star Conference championship tournament, grabbed a half-game lead atop the South Division standings. Entering Wednesday night's games, Midwestern State was 7-2 in the South and Angelo State was 6-2.
With two games remaining, Tarleton has secured a top three finish in the South after placing fourth in the division last year.
The Texans' final home game is Saturday against Texas A&M-Kingsville. The men play at 7 p.m. following a 5 p.m. women's contest.