The season is starting to take shape as teams have passed the halfway mark of non-conference play. As part of that, the California Baptist Lancers look to remain undefeated at home. And Tarleton looks to rebound from a home loss on Sunday.
Teams across the WAC continue to be tried and tested as they get ready for conference beginning in just a few weeks. Here is a little preview of the two games on Tuesday night featuring the Texans and Lancers.
Dallas Christian @ Tarleton (1-7)
6:00 PM(MST)/ 7:00 PM(CST) Stream: ESPN+
Tarleton State’s record is deceiving. While at first glance the team looks set to be one of the worst in the WAC, in actuality Coach Billy Gillispie’s group has put themselves through an absolute gauntlet of a non-conference schedule to ready themselves for WAC play. The Texans have lost to quality Power 5 opponents such as Stanford, Kansas, Michigan, and Gonzaga. All of which, except for Kansas, they played tough against and stayed within 12 points. Now, coming off a really bad loss at home against Charleston Southern, the Texans look forward to hosting non-Division I opponent Dallas Christian on Tuesday.
As usual, we’ll see Tarleton rely on their senior-laden starters to put in good minutes. Montre Gipson and Tahj Small have quietly been some of the more exciting players in the WAC thus far. Gipson had solid outings against the likes of Stanford and Kansas. Meanwhile Tahj Small had a 25-point night against Gonzaga in one of the finest shooting displays we’ve seen this year. But given the quality of competition, we should see young players like Shamir Bogues and Freddy Hicks stuff the stat sheet on Tuesday.
Their opponent is the Crusaders of Dallas Christian. This squad has also set themselves up with a tough schedule to prepare them for their NCCAA schedule. However, Tarleton is their first NCAA Division I opponent of the 202-21 season. The Crusaders feature some interesting talents like Nick Evers. The freshman had led the Crusaders in scoring in four of their games, as well as Versache Buchanan, who went off for 26 points in the Crusaders’ first game this season.
Given the gap in talent, look for Tarleton to strike fast in this game, and to give some of their bench guys some quality minutes.
North Dakota (3-6) @ California Baptist (7-1)
8:00 PM(MST)/ 7:00 PM(PST) Stream: ESPN+
Looking to extend their two-game win streak Tuesday are the Lancers of California Baptist. CBU has been a super fun squad to watch this season. And they’ll have a quality test at home as they host the North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
The Lancers have shown that they are capable of being one of the top teams in the WAC. And in 2021-22, the ceiling is way higher than what they’ve already shown. The Lancers are ed by the trio of Taran Armstrong, Reed Nottage, and Dan Akin all scoring around 12 points a game. CBU is also one of the most unselfish and dynamic offenses we’ve seen in the WAC. Head coach Rick Croy has a well-oiled machine rolling along in Riverside. Aside from a tough road loss at 7th-ranked Texas, the Lancers have done what they should have against their 2021-22 schedule.
CBU’s two-game win streak is on the line against a North Dakota ball club that hasn’t been able to find much success this season. The Hawks are led by a solid Junior-Senior combo of Caleb Nero and Mitchell Sueker. Unfortunately, the Hawks have struggled to find consistent support for them game in and game out. This is a group that was absolutely blown out by Kansas State a couple weeks back and lost by 25 to a San Jose State team California Baptist beat at home in November. So, by all indications, things don’t look great for North Dakota. But there’s a reason, games are not played on paper. Anything can happen in college basketball as we’ve already seen this year.
Despite that, I expect the Lancers to handle business at home, and use this game as a good tune-up opportunity as they get ready to play at UC Riverside and No. 11 Arizona over the next couple of weeks.