By BRAD KEITH
BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - Don't tell Lonn Reisman it's difficult to defeat a team three times in one season. He'll tell you that old adage is nothing more than an excuse.
"I didn't talk to my team about it and I don't plan to," Reisman said. "I've been in this business for 30 years and I've beat teams three times in a season and I've lost to teams three times in a season."
Tarleton (22-6) meets West Texas A&M (16-12) at 8:30 p.m. tonight in a Lone Star Conference Championship semifinal contest at Bruin Fieldhouse.
The Texans defeated the Buffaloes 69-56 in Canyon on Jan. 23 and 56-52 in Stephenville on Feb. 13.
"Those games are in the past and won't have any effect on this game," Reisman said. "It's all about the 40 minutes ahead of us, and just like any other game there will be highs and lows. We have to maximize the highs and minimize the lows."
Perimeter play was key in both previous Tarleton wins. In the first meeting at WT, Effran Bryant scored 19 points, Devon Hills netted 16 and Corin Henry tallied 11. Henry had six assists and Bryant added five.
In the second meeting, the host Texans picked up 14 points from Henry and 10 from Hills. They also got a boost from post player Jeremiah Wilson, who scored 11.
West Texas A&M was led at home by Joe Mincey with 18 and LaDarius Hall with 11. At Tarleton, the Buffs were paced by Bijan Dotson with 16 and Nick Burns with 14.
Tarleton reached the semifinals by coming from behind to edge Texas A&M-Commerce 83-76 in overtime Wednesday. The Texans trailed by 11 with seven minutes left in regulation, but scored 38 points over the final 12 minutes, including 19 in the five-minute overtime period.
Henry scored a season-high 29 points to go with eight assists in 42 minutes of action. Hills (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Wilson (10 points, 12 boards) both had double-doubles and Bryant scored 14 including a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:09 left in regulation.
West Texas A&M jumped out to a 17-3 lead and fought off a furious Central Oklahoma comeback for an 80-79 win Wednesday.
The Buffs were led by Dotson with 15 points and Mincey with 14. Burns recorded nine points while dishing out five assists and hit the decisive free throw with 1.8 seconds left.
Reisman said the key for his team is simple - match WT's physicality.
"Any time you face West Texas A&M you know you're in for a physical game," Reisman said. "We have to be as physical as they are and we have to match them on the backboards."
Reisman believes his team, which is ranked sixth in the South Central Region, is still not assured of a spot in next week's regional playoffs.
"We're still playing for our lives. When you're on the bubble you have to get wins any chance you get," he said. "You never know what the (playoff selection) committee is going to do."
There is one way to avoid being on the bubble - win the LSC championship. First, however, you have to get there.
The winner faces either Midwestern State or Northeastern State at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"West Texas A&M is playing for it's life because they have to win this tournament to keep their season going," Reisman said. "My message to our players is that we're playing for our life, too. It should be a great game. It almost always is anytime Tarleton and West Texas A&M meet each other."