Daeshon Francis could grin from ear to ear.
His birthday was still a day away, as he stood outside the Falcons’ locker room Thursday night, but after he helped his team earn another win. And after he added another special accolade to his personal collection, it was clear the party had already started earlier out on the court floor.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” he smiled.
Francis completed a rare triple double, scoring 22 points while adding 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and the No. 9 UTPB men’s basketball team rolled over visiting Western New Mexico 123-83 on Thursday night in the Falcon Dome.
UTPB’s senior star, and the reigning Lone Star Conference player of the year, added another accomplishment to his trophy case, earning just the 15th triple double recorded in NCAA Division II this season, and moving his way closer to his 1,000th career points at UTPB.
Francis and the Falcons jumped on struggling Western New Mexico early Thursday, pushing out to a 9-0 lead in the opening moments, before powering to a 13-point lead at 30-17 midway through the first half and then taking 64-40 lead into the break.
James McPherson knocked down one of team’s 13 first-half 3-pointers to give the Falcons that 13-point lead with 11:07 left in the half.
The Falcons hit 13 of 19 3-pointers in the first half, for 68.4-percent efficiency in the frame, led by Amari Bryant, who hit five of five, and McPherson, who netted five of nine.
McPherson finished with 22 points and Bryant scored 18 as the Falcons moved to 17-2 on the season and 9-1 in the Lone Star Conference. Western New Mexico fell to 3-16, 0-10.
UTPB coasted in the second half, with every player on the team’s roster scoring before the game was finished. Francis checked out for the final time with just less than eight minutes to play after hauling in his 10th rebound and completing his triple double.
Just 14 such games had been recorded across the nation in Division II entering Thursday. With Francis’ effort, the Falcons become one of just two teams that have put together more than one.
UTPB’s Sammy Allen completed his own earlier this season against Arlington Baptist.
Francis also scored his 395th point this season. He scored 581 points last season, and is now close to scoring 1,000 points in just a two-year career at UTPB.
“It feels good. The day before my birthday, (24) points to 1,000 — I’m just feeling good,” he said.
“I’m blessed, man. I’m blessed.”
UTPB head coach Andy Newman said he and the Falcons were glad to see Francis, who Newman said is always a team-first player and leader, enjoy reining in a personal accolade and draw nearer to picking up another.
“He just embodies what you want in a team-sport player,” Newman said. “I don’t care if it’s basketball, football, baseball — he’s just the ultimate model of a team-sport athlete.
“He would rather see somebody else succeed than him, does everything under the radar, does all the little things, and brings so much effort and passion to practice and games.”
In another rarity, all 13 dressed Falcons players saw the court Thursday, and all 13 scored.
The Falcons on the bench erupted late in the game when role-player teammates entered and found the net.
More importantly to the Falcons’ future success, two talented seniors more toward the middle of UTPB’s rotation put together quality minutes, in the first game of the Falcons’ second go-around through conference opponents.
Bryant is one of three seniors who transferred in to join UTPB’s roster for a final year of college basketball ahead of this season. The other two are Division I transfers, in 6-foot-8 forward Trayvond Massenburg, who played at Tennessee-Chattanooga, and guard Jevon Thomas, who came in from Seton Hall.
As part of UTPB’s stacked and experienced squad, neither has found a way into the Falcons’ starting lineup, but both bring talent to the rotation, and that much was on display Thursday night. Thomas scored five points and hauled in four rebounds in six minutes, while Massenburg pulled down five rebounds, dished a pair of assists and scored four points on a pair of rocking dunks, in 10 minutes.
Bryant said he and the Falcons expect both of those players to be called upon in frantic March, as the Falcons make their push in the Lone Star Conference Tournament and, eventually, the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s only going to help us in the future,” Bryant said.
Thursday night, all cylinders seemed to be firing for the Falcons, all the way down the roster.
“Seeing all those guys get their confidence is wonderful,” Francis said. “It’s the second half (of conference), the second run, and when those guys have confidence for when their name is called, there’s nothing better than to see that.”
WESTERN NEW MEXICO (3-16 overall, 0-10 Lone Star Conference)
CJ Vanbeekum 8-14 4-4 25, Haneef Vaughn-Wilson 6-11 4-6 16, Willie McCray 4-11 5-8 14, Alex Gonzalez 3-5 4-4 13, Jon-Reese Woodson 5-9 1-5 11, Jordan Enriquez 1-9 0-0 2, Davis Wade 1-3 0-0 2, Eddie Giron 0-2 0-0 0, Tyshaun Copper 0-0 0-0 0, O’Shayne Reid 0-4 0-0 0, Latrell Spivey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-69 18-27 83.
UTPB (17-2, 9-1)
Daeshon Francis 9-12 3-3 22, James McPherson 8-16 1-2 22, Amari Bryant 6-7 0-0 18, Josh Morris 5-8 3-5 13, Garrett Baggett 4-7 0-0 11, Andres Villa 3-4 2-3 8, Renard Thomas 2-4 2-2 7, John Moscoso 2-4 0-0 6, Jevon Thomas 1-4 3-4 5, Sammy Allen 2-3 0-0 4, Trayvond Massenburg 2-3 0-2 4, Daven Joseph 1-1 0-0 2, Zeldric King 0-0 1-3 1. Totals 45-73 15-24 123.
Halftime — UTPB 64, Western New Mexico 40. 3-Point goals — Western New Mexico 9-27 (CJ Vanbeekum 5-10, Alex Gonzalez 3-5, Willie McCray 1-5, Jordan Enriquez 0-3, Davis Wade 0-2, Eddie Giron 0-1, Haneef Vaughn-Wilson 0-1), UTPB 18-36 (Amari Bryant 6-7, James McPherson 5-13, Garrett Baggett 3-6, John Moscoso 2-4, Renard Thomas 1-2, Daeshon Francis 1-3, Sammy Allen 0-1). Total fouls — Western New Mexico 22, UTPB 22. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None. Rebounds — Western New Mexico 30 (Jon-Reese Woodson 4, Haneef Vaughn-Wilson 4), UTPB 51 (Daeshon Francis 10). Assists — Western New Mexico 9 (Haneef Vaugh-Wilson 3), UTPB 31 (Daeshon Francis 10).
Team W L W L
UTPB………………………….. 17 2 9 1
West Texas A&M…………. 18 2 8 2
Texas A&M-Commerce… 16 3 8 2
Angelo State……………….. 14 5 6 4
Tarleton State……………… 11 8 6 4
Texas A&M-Kingsville….. 11 9 4 6
Eastern New Mexico………. 8 11 3 7
Cameron………………………. 7 12 3 7
Midwestern State…………… 6 13 3 7
Western New Mexico……… 3 16 0 10
West Texas A&M 82, Eastern New Mexico 63
Tarleton State 68, Cameron 59
UTPB 123, Western New Mexico 83
Texas A&M-Commerce 91, Midwestern State 88
Midwestern State at Tarleton State, 4 p.m.
Eastern New Mexico at UTPB, 4 p.m.
Cameron at Texas A&M-Commerce, 4 p.m.
Western New Mexico at West Texas A&M, 4 p.m.
Dallas Christian at Angelo State, 4 p.m.