STEPHENVILLE – The 13th-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce, men’s basketball team, was tripped up in a battle at the top of the Lone Star Conference standings, as also 13th-ranked Tarleton State won 81-63 in Wisdom Gym on Tuesday night.
The Lions fall to 12-3 overall and 5-2 in the LSC, while Tarleton is now 14-2 overall and 6-1 in the league. A&M-Commerce is ranked 13th in the D2SIDA Media Poll, while Tarleton is ranked 13th in the NABC Coaches’ Poll.
A&M-Commerce concludes a seven-game road trip with the loss. The Lions are off until Monday, January 16, when they return to the Field House for a 7:30 p.m. game against Arlington Baptist.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– The Lions were held to 33.3 percent shooting (22-of-66) in the game, while the Texans shot 49.2 percent (30-of-61). Of Tarleton’s 30 made baskets, 14 were three-pointers.
– Trey Seymore led the Lions with 19 points with four rebounds.
– Malik Albert scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Jovan Austin scored 14 points.
– TSU held a 44-36 advantage on the board and outscored the Lions in the paint, 26-20.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Albert scored the Lions’ first eight points, as the teams traded early baskets, and the game was tied 8-8 at the 16:21 mark. The Texans pushed ahead and led 15-10 at the 14:32 mark before the Lions tied it back up on an Austin three-pointer and a pair of Trey Washington free throws.
The Texans surged again, scoring seven straight points to go up by a 25-18 margin with seven minutes remaining in the frame. That seven-point margin held with just under five minutes to play, but A&M-Commerce chipped into the lead. A Daquane Willford layup surrounded by free throws narrowed the deficit to two.
Tarleton pushed ahead though and would lead by ten at one point before a late Seymore jumper made it a 38-30 game at the half. The Lions shot 31.3 percent from the field in the first half (10-of-32), grabbed 18 rebounds, and picked up three steals.
Simon Shafack drained a three-pointer for the first basket of the second half, cutting the lead to 38-33. The teams battled back and forth, and the Lions cut the lead down to three points at 43-40 on a Seymore fastbreak layup with 15:34 to play.
The margin was as small as three points on an Austin triple at the 8:47 mark with a 54-51 Tarleton lead. The Texans then went on a 13-5 surge to take a double-digit lead at the 4:58 mark on a Romond Jenkins to make it 67-56.
Austin responded with a three-point play on the next possession, but the Lions only converted on one field goal attempt in the final four and a half minutes, allowing TSU to pull away.
HEAD COACH SAM WALKER AFTER THE GAME
On how his team battled
“I thought we played hard. I’ve had teams that have been in this situation that just kind of took the foot off the gas. I thought the foot was on the gas, but it just seemed like we were a step slow. Rebounds that we usually get that we break out and get a layup were rebounds we were steps slow to and they got a putback. We live off of that. That’s the reason why we scored 63 points when we are used to scoring close to 90. We missed those opportunities. We just didn’t have it tonight.”
On how his team took care of the ball
“When it gets into a grind with Tarleton, you are not going to beat them 95-91. You’ve got to find a way to beat them 71-69. They are going to keep control of the game, and there are not as many possessions as we usually have. To only have 11 turnovers, and some of those were uncharacteristic turnovers, that was what we needed.”
On the end of a seven-game road trip
“I look at this seven-game road swing, and if you told me we were going to be 5-2 on it, I would have said there was no way. 4-3 would have been phenomenal. It would be right where you need to be. Especially if it is the right games. If you told me were going to be 12-3 through 15 games with a big home stand coming up, I would take it any day of the week.”
Lions run away with 89-74 win at Tarleton to match the best start in school history
A&M-Commerce moves to 10-4 with the major conference victory.
STEPHENVILLE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team went on a huge fourth-quarter run to take an 89-74 win over Tarleton State University on Tuesday night at Wisdom Gym.
The Lions outscored Tarleton 24-6 in the fourth quarter to move to 10-4 overall and 5-2 in the Lone Star Conference, matching the best start to a season in program history. Tarleton falls to 5-8 overall and 4-3 in the league.
A&M-Commerce is next in action on Saturday, January 14, returning home for the first time in six weeks. The Lions host Texas Women for a 2:00 pm tipoff in Commerce. Students from grades kindergarten through 12th grade with an ‘A’ grade on their recent report cards will be admitted free to the next two Lion basketball home dates.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– The Lions shot 51.4 percent from the floor in the contest, including a 55.5 percent rate in the wild fourth quarter.
– Khala Riley notched career highs in points and assists in the game, scoring 21 points and dishing out eight assists, also grabbing five rebounds.
– Artaejah Gay scored 18 points, while Brianna Wise scored 14 and Krystal Pickron notched 13.
– Jenna Price scored seven points and grabbed ten boards.
– The Lions held a huge advantage in turnovers, forcing the TexAnns to cough up the ball 20 times while turning it over only seven times themselves.
– TSU outrebounded the Lions 44-30.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Gay led the way for the Lions in the early going, scoring the first seven points for the guests. The TexAnns went on a 6-0 run after Gay’s opening basket, but her layup at the 6:02 mark gave the Lions a 7-6 advantage.
Tarleton went on a 10-point run as the Lions went nearly three minutes without scoring. Hessong drained a triple at the 3:22 mark to stop the run and the Lions scored the final seven points of the quarter to trail 19-17 at the end of the first frame.
The Lions took the lead in the early stages of the second quarter on a free throw by Gay and a Penina Faumui layup to make it 20-19. Tarleton scored the next five points to regain the lead; then Wise hit a corner three-pointer to cut the TSU lead back down to one.
A&M-Commerce trailed by three at the 5:54 mark after a Riley three-point play, but the TexAnns went on a seven-point surge to take their lead to double digits at 38-28 with four minutes left in half. Riley scored two baskets in the final minute to help narrow the Lion deficit to 45-40 at the break.
At the half, the Lions were shooting 45.9 percent from the field (17-of-37), with a 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) rate from long range. Riley had five assists at the half, and Price had five rebounds.
A&M-Commerce quickly erased the deficit after the break, scoring the first seven points of the third quarter. A pair of fastbreak layups from Pickron and Riley swung the lead to the Lions at 50-47 just over two minutes into the period.
Gay drilled a three-pointer to put the Lions up by three before the TexAnns erased the good work with an 11-point rampage to go up 58-50 at the 5:39 mark of the period.
The Lions chipped away with their eight-point rally and tied the game at 61-all with 2:18 to play in the third. A mini-run by TSU saw the hosts carry a 68-65 advantage to the final period.
A&M-Commerce scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter as well, taking a lead they would not relinquish. A Riley three-point play put the Lions up by four, and after a TexAnn basket, the Lions went on another 8-0 run to push the lead to double digits for the first time.
Tarleton scored its last meaningful basket of the game at the 4:11 mark and the Lions outscored TSU 24-6 in the fourth quarter.
HEAD COACH JASON BURTON AFTER THE GAME
His thoughts on the game
I’m so proud of these girls. They continue to fight. There were times where Tarleton had a 10-point lead on us, and we kept doing what we do. We got stops and went on a run of our own. The run we went on in the fourth quarter was incredible. 24-6 run with tired bodies. I thought people came in and stepped up for us. We played our best half of basketball I believe. Our best quarter of basketball right there.”
On shooting a high percentage from the field
“You have to think, as bad as we’ve shot the ball in the first ten games of the season, at some point the ball had to start going into the bucket for us. It did tonight.”
On the defense
“This is never an easy place to play. I’m just proud of what we did coming in here and taking care of business. TSU is an excellent team on the other side of the floor. And to hold the leading scorer in the conference to just 11 points, when she is averaging 20, we did a great job on her.”
The play of Brianna Wise
“I told [Brianna], it wasn’t just about the scoring. She guarded. She played some defense right there. And she altered shots and pressured up. She made those posts uncomfortable. She has a small frame, but she guarded two sturdy posts and did a great job.”
Fourth quarter defense
“We forced 11 turnovers in the second half. But more than that, we forced difficult shots. They only shot 18 percent in the fourth quarter, and that is due to the pressure that we put on those girls.”
On the strides, his team is making
“Our team is starting to realize what it takes to win in this conference. More and more, they are buying into the game plan and to what we’re doing. We told them how important pressure was and they found another gear. They dug in a little deeper and got out and pressured. And they saw the results. To hold a team like that to just six points in a quarter, especially in the fourth quarter, it’s incredible.”