Buffs run from Lions, earn second straight last 16 appearance



Austin Heinen, Former Associate Editor

For the second consecutive year, West Texas A&M (30-3) defeated Texas A&M Commerce (22-9) in the south central regional tournament, to eventually earn a trip into the sweet 16. The 11th-ranked Buffaloes defeated the Lions 93-70.

Midway through the first half, WT was only shooting 31% and two for 11 behind the arc. Commerce was giving the Buffs a battle once again, as the Lions once had a four-point lead midway through the front end of the first half. 

“It’s a tough game,” Brown said. “Commerce was battling in that first half. It was kind of back and forth, they had the lead for a while, and they’re a good team. They’re really well coached. They got some players that are juniors that will be back next year that are very good. So for us to get them by 20 was big for us.”

WT then out scored the Lions 19-10 in the final 10 minutes of the first half and scored 60 points in the second half to pull away from Commerce. A big part of that was the Buff’s inside shooting with Junior Ryan Quaid and Freshman Gaige Prim who combined scored 40 points. Quaid, who had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, says that the Buffs can be very hard to stop when they have the inside game going strong.

“We talk about it a lot and Gaige is a really smart player,” Quaid said. “We’re both from Colorado so we have that connection going but it’s something we talk about, and discuss it in practice a lot, and we know it’s pretty unstoppable when we have it going.”

True freshman Gaige Prim scored the game’s high 24 points. He went nine for 10 from the floor, and six for seven from the free throw line. With this not being the first time Prim has had a stat like this in such a big time contest, and with some tips from Quaid, it is understood why Prim says he does not feel like a freshman anymore.

“He’s shown me a lot,” Prim said. “He took me under his wing, shown me what to do, it really helps a lot. I don’t really feel like a freshman anymore, I’m just going out there and doing my thing so I can help the team out.”

The Buffaloes beat the Lions three times in four meetings this year. WT will have another chance to replicate that stat on Tuesday as they play 19th-ranked Texas-Permian Basin a fourth time, after the Falcons won a quadruple overtime thriller over 22nd-ranked Regis, 130-124.

After losing the first meeting by six points in Odessa, WT has beaten the Falcons in the last two contests, including a win in the Lone Star Conference tournament final. With a trip to the elite eight on the line, Tom Brown says it is a great opportunity for both teams.

“It’s just a great opportunity to be in a sweet 16 again,” Brown said. “To go have a chance to get to an elite eight is very special. To have that opportunity again is a great honor. We want to go capitalize obviously. UTPB wants that game as much as we do, it’s going to be a great game, I hope we can get some fans down here and really pack this gym.”

The Buffaloes and Falcons will battle for the south central regional title on Tuesday at 7 pm in the First United Bank Center.

NCAA Men’s South Central Region scoreboard (in bracket order)

No. 1 West Texas A&M 79, No. 8 Colorado School of Mines 65

No. 5 Texas A&M-Commerce 78, No. 4 Ark.-Fort Lewisville 62

No. 3 Regis 87, No. 6 Dallas Baptist 82

No. 2 UTPB 87, No. 7 Ark.-Fort Smith 69

Sunday’s Semifinals

West Texas A&M 93, Texas A&M-Commerce 70

UTPB 130, Regis 124 (4 OT)

Tuesday’s Final

No. 1 West Texas A&M vs. No. 2 UTPB; 7 p.m.