TYLER, Texas (UT Tyler Athletics) – The UT Tyler Patriots finished strong in the final ten minutes of action for the second night in a row to claim a 73-69 win over Western New Mexico Wednesday night at the Herrington Patriot Center.
UT Tyler (10-10, 7-10 LSC) outscored the Mustangs (0-11, 0-2 LSC) 43-to-39 in the second half of action to claim the program’s 10th win of the shortened 2020-21 season and second in a row in as many nights against Western New Mexico. Roche Grootfaam totaled a career-high 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half, to lead the Patriots in scoring.
Grootfaam hit seven second-half free throws in eight attempts to help the Patriots once again close out the opposition in the final 10 minutes of play. UT Tyler trailed by one at 50-49 with just over ten minutes remaining, but rattled off 23 points in the closing 10 minutes of the contest, including eight from Grootfaam, to officially move the squad’s overall win total to double-digits for the season.
The contest also served as senior night for six Patriot seniors that were honored prior to tip-off.
Grootfaam converted on a huge and-one opportunity with 2:12 left on the clock that capped off six unanswered points for UT Tyler leading up to that point to build a 69-62 advantage. A string of costly fouls on the Patriots following that run allowed Western New Mexico to narrow the margin to just two at 69-67 with five straight made free throws.
The Patriot defense tightened up and allowed just a single Mustang basket in the final 1:49 of play while connecting on all four free throw attempts to finish with a 73-69 victory.
Grootfaam connected on 5-of-6 shots from the field in his tremendous second half of play as the Patriots shot 44.4 percent (12-of-27) as a team from the field. UT Tyler went 15-of-19 as a unit from the free throw line in the second half as well to convert on the additional opportunities.
Darius Alford provided 17 points of offensive support to go along with Grootfaam’s stellar night. Emanuel Gant filled up the stat sheet in the effort with nine points, a team-high six rebounds and three steals to help find different ways to contribute throughout the evening.
UT Tyler is scheduled to finish up the 2020-21 campaign with a pair of games on Friday night and Saturday night inside the Herrington Patriot Center. Friday night’s game against Talladega State College will tip at 5 p.m. while Saturday’s contest against Southwestern Adventist University is set for an 8 p.m. start.
Watch the video to see the highlights and to hear from head coach Louis Wilson.