FRISCO – There is a budding rivalry developing in the Lone Star Conference and it was on full display Sunday afternoon in the LSC men’s championship game.
No. 3 West Texas A&M and No. 9 St. Edward’s met last season in the South Central Regional final and the Buffs won it on their home court.
The two teams met earlier this season at St. Edward’s with the Hilltoppers delivering the Buffs their lone loss entering the finale. This go around, WT came back from down as many as 13 points at the break to win a physical contest, 75-65.
“Our guys really wanted it and that’s what it comes down to sometimes,” WT head coach Tom Brown said. “They were carving us up a little bit, but we weren’t really getting in the fight and I thought we got in the fight in the second half and had them on their heels.”
The Buffs have won three straight LSC tournament titles and became the first team since Abilene Christian in 1985-1987 to accomplish the feat in the LSC.
“That’s why West Texas is a championship team,” SEU head coach Andre Cook said. “They seize the opportunity. I thought we played a terrific first half, but I was hoping we would have a 19 or 20 point lead at the half.”
WT also earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division II tournament and will likely host the South Central Regional next weekend.
However, the rivalry may have a third game this season as the Hilltoppers will receive an at-large bid to the tournament and these teams could meet again with another trip to the Elite Eight on the line.
“This was a good win,” Brown said. “If we see them again it’ll be in the regional championship. If we’re lucky enough to survive, I would not be surprised to see them in the championship game. We don’t want to give them any bulletin board material.”
LSC tournament Most Valuable Player Joel Murray led the Buffs with 21 points and eight rebounds while LSC Player of the Year Qua Grant added 18 points with Jon’il Fugett, Eric Mosley and Jordan Collins each scoring 12 points for WT.
SEU was led by Jake Krafka with 15 points as Ryan Garza added 13 points off the bench and Corey Shervill chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.
“Congratulations is the message to WT,” Cook said laughing. “We have work to do before we get there. We want to have the rematch on Tuesday in Canyon.”