FRISCO At halftime, UTPB head coach Andy Newman looked around at his players in the locker room.

Leading by four in the Lone Star Conference Tournament semifinals against Tarleton State and knowing what the Falcons had shown in the past, Newman confidently stated “OK, let’s go beat this team now.”

UTPB proceeded to outscore the Texans by 24 points in the second half to pull away for the 83-55 victory Saturday night at Dr Pepper Arena. The Falcons will play West Texas A&M in the tournament final at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The Buffaloes defeated Texas A&M-Commerce 73-63 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

UTPB’s Daeshon Francis and Josh Morris tied for the game’s scoring lead with 21 points each, followed by James McPherson, who added 19. Tarleton State’s Josh Hawley led the Texans with 19 points.

“That was the closest 20-point game I’ve ever been a part of,” Newman said. “Tarleton’s a really good team and they’re so physical and long and athletic. We know we were in for a battle and it was just good that, more than anything, we started getting back to ourselves and played the way that we know that we can play.”

UTPB (24-5) led by as many as nine points in the first half, but couldn’t find that next gear to put a sizeable lead between it and Tarleton State.

Then after that halftime chat, the Falcons started to find room along the 3-point line. After a few shots from beyond the arc swished from Amari Bryant and McPherson, UTPB took its first double-digit lead.

The Falcons didn’t take their foot off the gas, steadily increasing their advantage for the rest of the game, leading by as many as 28 at one point.

It was the second straight win as many days for UTPB, as it used a strong another strong second half to down Midwestern State by 14 on Friday.

“It’s nothing I think that’s being said. I think it’s a good time for us to refocus,” Newman said about what has occurred during the break that’s benefitted his team this weekend.

Midway through the second half, one sequence could have been devastating for the Falcons, but ended up not having much of an effect.

On a fast break off a steal, McPherson dribbled up the court and lobbed the ball to Francis near the hoop. Francis caught it with one hand and threw down the dunk despite making contact with Tarleton’s Deshawn Riddick. After scoring, Francis fell, hitting his face flush on the court.

Francis quickly popped up to his feet and proceeded to pump up the crowd while receiving medical attention. He came back into the game after a five-minute break.

That was how the second half went for the Falcons — nothing could stop them.

“We’re going to make it happen, we know what it takes, we know what we got to do to be locked in,” McPherson said. “Whichever one of them teams that we play — we got revenge on either one of them teams, whether it’s Commerce or West Teas A&M. We’re kind of the go-getters.

“They just got to be ready to play because we’re coming with a lot of force. We got a lot of confidence going right now.”

Part of the reason for the big second-half disparity was UTPB only committing three turnovers in the game.

“It’s very un-Newman-like for these guys to do that … just absolutely ridiculous,” Newman said. “That’s why I say these guys overcome coaching all the time and I’m very thankful for that.”

UTPB and top-seeded West Texas A&M split their regular-season series with a win apiece. The No. 2-seed Falcons defeated the Buffaloes 106-100 in Odessa on Dec. 5, while West Texas A&M took down UTPB 105-86 on Jan. 30 in Canyon.

Newman doesn’t see anything particular as his team’s next step to reaching its potential. Winning a second straight Lone Star Conference Tournament title would be nice, though, with the possibility of hosting the regional tournament still up for grabs.

“Our focus is all just being disciplined and brining our A-game on every possession for 40 minutes,” Newman said. “If we do that, we’re going to be really, really hard to beat.”

{{tncms-inline account=”EricBlumOA” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">UTPB's Daeshon Francis (<a href="">@Dae_Francis5</a&gt😉 throws down the alley-oop from James McPherson, but takes a hard fall with hitting his face flush on the court. Francis is fine on the bench. This happened to be the first dunk of the game. <a href=""></a></p>— Eric Blum (@EricBlumOA) <a href="">March 4, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”970109893796663296″ type=”twitter”}}

UTPB 83, Tarleton State 55


Corinthian Ramsey 4-15 3-6 13, Jaraan Lands 1-5 0-0 2, Deshawn Riddick 2-13 0-0 5, Josh Hawley 8-11 0-0 19, Sam Marshall 1-1 0-0 3, Preston Enloe 1-6 0-0 3, Nosa Ebomwonyi 0-1 0-0 0, Jesse Hill 2-3 0-0 5, Clashon Gaffney 1-2 3-6 5. Totals 20-57 6-12 55.

UTPB (24-5)

James McPherson 7-16 5-11 19, Amari Bryant 3-8 1-4 7, Daeshon Francis 7-11 5-5 21, Sammy Allen 1-9 4-4 6, Josh Morris 10-13 1-1 21, Garrett Baggett 0-2 0-0 0, Andres Villa 0-1 0-0 0, Renard Thomas 1-1 0-0 2, Zeldric King 2-6 3-4 7. Totals 31-67 13-14 83.

Halftime — UTPB 39, Tarleton State 35. 3-Point goals — Tarleton State 9-28 (Hawley 3, Ramsey 2, Riddick 1, Marshall 1, Enloe 1, Hill 1); UTPB 8-21 (McPherson 5, Francis 2, Bryant 1). Total fouls — Tarleton State 14, UTPB 17. Fouled out — Tarleton: Hawley. Technical fouls — None. Rebounds — Tarleton State 30 (Gaffney 8); UTPB 45 (Three tied with 11). Assists — Tarleton State 9 (Ramsey 4); UTPB 18 (Francis 6).