Everyone in uniform Saturday at the Patterson Student Center contributed as Texas A&M University-Texarkana (6-11, 1-4) won its first-ever Red River Athletic Conference basketball game against Paul Quinn College, 83-71.
“Every win is special, but this one was probably a little bit more,” said winning coach Ryan Wall. “We preach it’s all about winning, and doing whatever it takes. We always want to protect our home court. If we take care of business at home, and win a few on the road, we’ll be in good position down the stretch.”
A week ago two of Wall’s weapons were hospitalized with the flu. Junior Anthony McGee came off the bench to score 11 points in eight minutes. Freshman Decorion Phillips only scored two points, but they couldn’t have been bigger. The Eagles were protecting a lead when Phillips pulled down a rebound on a missed free throw. Phillips raced the length of the court, making an acrobatic move to score against two defenders.
It’s not surprising that senior Desmond Kennedy and sophomore Connor Ouellette were once again Wall’s nuclear weapons. The 6-3 Kennedy scored a game-high 27 points, converting 5 of 10 treys. He was also perfect at the charity stripe (10 of 10). Ouellette, who scored 29 Thursday, poured in 24 points and had a team-high five rebounds.
Paul Quinn trailed by 19 points
The Eagles built a 19-point advantage in the final five minutes. Paul Quinn (3-16, 1-4) cut into that deficit, but never got closer than nine thanks to Kennedy’s free throw shooting.
“Desmond and Connor are good players; I know what I’m getting from them every day,” said Wall. “It’s a pleasure to coach these two.”
If TAMU-T had an unsung hero Saturday it was junior guard Kaland Johnson. He only scored seven points, but his five assists and ball-handling against the Tigers’ press were huge.
“Kaland took three charging calls tonight that were big,” said Wall. “He hardly ever get in the stats, but he’s special for what we do. Kaland controls the game, and doesn’t turn the ball over. We don’t speak enough about Kaland and what he contributes. When our guys came off the bench tonight they took care of business. When we have a deep bench we’re pretty good.”
Eagles make 46 percent of their treys
Texarkana shot 46 percent from 3-point range, including 7 of 12 in the second half. The Eagles also matched Paul Quinn on the glass, each team pulling down 37 rebounds. The Tigers had 26 turnovers against TAMU-T’s pressure.
Wall boasted he has a good-shooting team. Kennedy also wasn’t silenced off the court.
“This may have been our first conference win, but we practice every day with the mindset we can flip a switch at anytime,” said Kennedy. “We just want to get better.”
That’s exactly what the Eagles did Saturday against Paul Quinn.