MARSHALL -- The University of Texas at Tyler and chief rival East Texas Baptist fought to a tie for the first 45 minutes, but the Tigers scored with less than two minutes to play and grabbed some big rebounds to secure the win, 85-83.
The Patriots (5-17, 4-14 ASC) trailed in regulation, but Larry Ware (SO/San Antonio, TX) hit a clutch jumper to tie the game and send it to overtime. In the first overtime, Ware hit another jumper from the paint to take the lead with 44 seconds to go, but ETBU senior Cedric Isom tied the game with 24 seconds left, and the Patriots couldn’t convert on the final possession.
In the second extra period, the Tigers led 84-81 with 1:30 remaining when Anthony Hightower (JR/Houston, TX) scored to cut the lead to one. Mirada Reed (JR/Cleveland, TX) drove the lane and got fouled, but missed both free throws. With a one-point lead, the Tigers missed two shots, but grabbed both rebounds. Cory Cooper was fouled with four seconds remaining and hit the first of two free throws. Cooper missed the second one, but grabbed his own miss and kept the Patriots from getting another possession.
Coach Matt Wallis said in a game this close, the small mistakes made the difference.
“I thought ETBU did a great job of making plays down the stretch. Both teams were very even athletically. We just had some key turnovers down the stretch, and that’s kind of been the story of the year. In a tight game like that, it’s who’s going to make the most plays or who’s going to give up the big play first. We had opportunities to secure rebounds, and we didn’t.”
UT Tyler was led by Hightower, who posted the Patriots second double-double of the season with twenty points and eleven rebounds. Point guard Ware tied his season high with sixteen points, and also had a career-best seven rebounds. Anthony Reese had fourteen points, seven boards, and three steals.
It was the second-longest game in UT Tyler history. Only the Patriots very first win back on December 3, 2003 against Hardin-Simmons (76-64) took longer to play. The Patriots are now 3-3 all time in overtime games.
The Patriots will return home for their final two games, beginning Thursday night at 7:30 against Louisiana College. That game will be at the Herrington Patriot Center, and also live on the UT Tyler Sports Network.