Pair of Dustdevils Claim
Trio of All-Conference Honors
The Heartland Conference's No. 2 seeded Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) (20-8, 13-5 Heartland Conference) earned All-Heartland Conference acclaim as it prepares for the Heartland Conference Tournament hosted by the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith. A pair of seniors, Matthew Culliver, Jr. and Jordan Clark, combined to claim three separate honors, as voted on by the conference's head coaches.
Clark, a senior from Houston, was named the Heartland Conference's Defensive Player of the Year as well as landing on the All-Heartland Conference second team. Culliver was named as the Dustdevils' lone first teamer.
The 6-foot-5 forward was a shutdown defensive stalwart, averaging 4.5 rebounds per game, 1.4 steals per game and 0.4 blocks per game while often being tasked with defending the opposition's strongest scoring threat. Of Clark’s 125 total rebounds, the starter of 27 of 28 games pulled in 77 defensive boards. Offensively, he averaged a team-high 12.6 points per game to rank 25th in the conference. His .558 field goal percentage stands as the Heartland's ninth best and his 38 total steals rank as the conference's ninth highest total. Clark shot 73 percent from the free throw line while averaging 28.5 minutes per game.
Culliver, last year's Heartland Conference Newcomer of the Year, earned first team honors this year while starting every game but one. He averaged 28.8 minutes while scoring 9.9 points per game, 3.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He registered 1.3 steals per game and shot 44 percent from the field and 66 percent from free throw line. He shot 39 percent from the 3-point arc to rank 13th in the league. He ranked second in the league in assists, 10th in steals and fifth in assist-turnover ratio.
TAMIU will now face St. Mary's – a team that the Dustdevils played in an epic series including five-combined overtimes – in the tournament semifinals on March 7. The winner of No. 2 TAMIU and No. 3 St. Mary's (19-7, 12-6 Heartland) will advance to the tournament championship game for a chance at an automatic qualification to the NCAA Division II South Central Regional tournament.
Only the tournament champions from the Heartland, Lone Star and Rocky Mountain Athletic conferences pick up automatic berths, while the next five highest regional ranked teams also qualify.
As of Feb. 25's poll, TAMIU ranked seventh in the South Central.
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