Perhaps the Sam Houston Bearkats should just play all their games on Saturday. Or maybe, the California Baptist Lancers should just have a set goal for the rest of the season…score 70-plus points in every game. And along those lines, perhaps it is time people started paying a little more attention to the Tarleton Texans. Also on the agenda, the young Mavericks are getting better. Much better. Either that, or New Mexico State is just getting worse. It’s hard to tell.
Was that enough of an opening paragraph for you?
The full slate on Saturday was wild, crazy, entertaining, and confirmed how deep the league is in 2022-23.
Southern Utah knocked Stephen F. Austin from the unbeaten ranks. The T-birds snapped SFA’s 15-game WAC winning streak in an impressive win Saturday afternoon.
In the second marquee matchup on Saturday, Riley Grigsby and Cam Tyson led Seattle to a big win at Utah Valley. In a battle of undefeated teams in WAC play, the Redhawks hit timely shots down the stretch in an instant classic in Orem.
And there were four other games around the WAC on Saturday. Those four games will be the focus of this rapid recap.
Tarleton 72, Abilene Christian 63
Welcome back, Jakorie Smith. The Texans leading scorer played his first full game since Dec. 29 and tied Lue Williams with a team-high 15 points. Smith played 30 minutes as the Texans earned a season split with ACU.
Along with Smith and Williams, three other Texans were in double figures.
I mean… we’re okay if you keep leaving @Jak0rie_ open on the left side ? pic.twitter.com/LsHQt2UHuE
— Tarleton Men's Basketball (@TarletonMBB) January 15, 2023
Shakur Daniel had 13 points, Shamir Bogues had 12 points and Tiger Booked added 11 points.
Manny Allen and Ali Dibba led ACU with 14 points apiece. Joe Pleasant had a double-double for the Wildcats with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the ball game was at the free throw line.
Tarleton was 27-36 at the stripe while ACU was 10-21.
ACU heads to Orem for a Wednesday night tip at Utah Valley. Tarleton heads to the Pacific Northwest to take on undefeated Seattle on Wednesday night.
UT Arlington 66, New Mexico State 55
Saturday night in Las Cruces featured a battle of winless teams in WAC play. Perhaps some had the Mavericks tagged as one of those teams before the season began. But, nobody foresaw the other winless team in this matchup.
It was 0-5 UT Arlington at 0-5 New Mexico State. Yes, that is not a typo. The defending champs have yet to win a game in WAC play.
And after a terrible second half, the Aggies remain winless.
Greg Young’s squad did the exact opposite of what they did on Thursday in an 80-48 loss at GCU: they played a clean ball game after halftime.
Chendall Weaver had 16 points, Shemar Wilson had 15 points and nine rebounds and the Mavericks outscored the Aggies, 40-22, in the second half.
???‼️‼️@ccornish03 finds @Ch3ndalll and we've tied our largest lead!
??-? ??? ?? ????? ??? ???? pic.twitter.com/00ftVgt4Lp
— UTA Men’s Basketball (@UTAMavsMBB) January 15, 2023
Aggie broadcaster Adam Young said it best, “a tale of two halves”. And that’s exactly what it was on Saturday night at the Pan Am Center.
Weaver and the Mavericks won their first league game of the 2022-23 season. The Mavericks host UTRGV on Thursday with the winner getting a leg up in the WAC standings.
Sam Houston 78, Utah Tech 53
Another Saturday and another dominating Saturday win for the Bearkats. It’s kind of wild how Sam Houston can’t win on Thursday. But, two days later, the Bearkats play lights out.
And it is pretty wild how Sam Houston won on Saturday night in St. George.
Tanner Christensen scored five straight points to give Utah Tech a 26-17 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.
In his bag ? @yesssirqua pic.twitter.com/7kKtAoqFOU
— Sam Houston Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) January 15, 2023
But, the Bearkats went on a 18-3 run to finish out the half. And things just ballooned after halftime. Four Bearkats were in double figures led by Qua Grant’s 15 points. Lamar Wilkerson had 13 points and Donte Powers and Jaden Ray each had 10.
Frank Staine was the only Trailblazer in double figures with 10 points. Utah Tech was without point guard Cam Gooden for the fourth straight game.
The Bearkats host rival SFA on Thursday and Utah Tech heads to Grand Canyon for a Wednesday night showdown.
California Baptist 79, Grand Canyon 74
Don’t let the Lancers score 70-plus points. That has to be in every coaches scouting report when getting ready for the Lancers. Whenever CBU scores 70-plus points, they win. The record after Saturday night at the CBU Events Center is now 6-1 when scoring 70-plus points.
CBU finally got a win at the CBU Events Center over Grand Canyon. Riley Battin continued his stellar play with a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Tre Armstrong came alive from 3-point land and finished with 15 points. And Hunter Goodrick had 14 points and seven rebounds in the win.
The hustle always pays off. ??? Riley with 2 of his game-high 18 points. #LanceUp⚔️ pic.twitter.com/NouoVNT9GX
— California Baptist Men's Basketball (@CBUmbb) January 15, 2023
The 3-point line was friendly to the Lancers as CBU hit 12 3-pointers as a team. Contrast that to GCU going 4-22 from distance and that’s your ball game.
Give credit where it is due, though. Playing without starting point guard Jovan Blacksher Jr. and starting forward Yvan Ouedraogo, the Lopes hung around. Gabe McGlothan played like a man possessed finishing with 24 points and eight rebounds.
But, the Lancers closed out a game and their third win in their last four contests.
CBU has a week off before hosting Tarleton on Saturday. And GCU hosts Utah Tech on Wednesday and Utah Valley on Saturday.
UTRGV 85, Chicago State 82
The Vaqueros got another big performance out of Justin Johnson to knock off the former WAC foe. Johnson finished with 32 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
The Vaqueros got the win despite Chicago State knocking down 12 3-pointers.
UTRGV heads to UT Arlington on Thursday and Sam Houston on Saturday.