Lions come out on the wrong end of another classic with West Texas A&M, 100-98
CANYON – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team engaged in another instant classic with West Texas A&M University, but this time came out on the wrong end of a 100-98 decision at the First United Bank Center on Thursday night.
The Lions are now 18-8 overall and 10-7 in the Lone Star Conference entering the final game of the regular season. West Texas A&M is now 23-7 overall and 11-6 in LSC play.
A&M-Commerce now heads to UT Permian Basin for a 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday in a game with massive implications. UTPB has a shot at an LSC title, while the Lions can now finish as high as third in the LSC standings.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– There were 18 ties and 21 lead changes in the game, which went down to the final possession once again.
– Five Lions scored in double digits, led by 20 points and seven rebounds from Malik Albert.
– Jovan Austin netted 18 points with six assists, while De’Andre Carson scored 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
– Marquieth Russell and Dorian Armstrong each scored 10 points in the post.
– The Lions outrebounded WT 39-37, including 14 offensive rebounds to the Buffs’ seven.
– A&M-Commerce shot 47.9 percent (34-of-71) from the field, including 9-of-20 (45.0 percent) from three-point range. WT shot 50.0 percent (29-of-58) from the field and made 11-of-31 (35.5 percent) of its three-point attempts.
– For WT, David Chavlovich scored 29 points, and Joseph Prince netted 24 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
As could be expected after the teams’ first meeting this season, the game had plenty of momentum swings. The Lions were the first team to take control thanks to three-pointers from Austin and Carson, followed by seven points in a row from Albert, giving the blue and gold a 16-11 lead with 14:33 left in the first half.
WT stole that momentum back as the Lions went scoreless for 4:21 and the Buffs scored 12 straight. A Prince triple at the 11:14 mark made it a 23-16 lead for the hosts.
It took just over six minutes for the Lions to chip away at the lead from the charity stripe, and Trey Washington drained a three-pointer with 5:28 on the first half clock to tie the game back up at 30-all.
From there, neither side led by more than two points for the rest of the period. The teams went to the dressing room with the score tied at 43-43. A&M-Commerce shot 45.2 percent (14-of-31) from the field in the half, while West Texas A&M shot 52.2 percent (12-of-23) in the period.
Albert had nine points at the half to lead the Lions, while Austin, Carson, and Russell had eight apiece.
Carson started the second half scoring off with a three-pointer, and the Lions would go on to hold the Buffs off the scoreboard for nearly three minutes, taking a 57-52 lead on a Trey Seymore three-point play at the 14:04 mark.
WT used a Prince triple-play and Chavlovich layup to erase the deficit, and the see-saw action continued from there, as neither team could get ahead by more than two points for the next seven minutes.
After a pair of Austin’s free throws tied the game at 76-all with 5:52 to go, the Buffs went on a 13-4 run. A three-point play by Chavlovich with just under three minutes on the clock gave the hosts an 89-80 advantage.
The Lions were not discouraged.
Twice in the final minute and a half, the Lions scored, then stole the WT inbounds pass and scored again. These mostly turned into four-point plays that allowed an eight-point deficit with 1:39 on the clock to dwindle down to three points with just under 20 seconds to play.
Carson drained a three-pointer from the corner and Albert made a contested triple from the wing, but the Lions had been forced to foul to stop the clock, and the Buffs had made the most of their free throw chances. WT made eight of its last nine free throw chances in the final 1:10. Albert’s challenged shot cut the lead to one point with under a second to play, but the Lions were unable to get off a desperation heave, and the Buffs earned the victory.
The Lions shot 50.0 percent (20-of-40) in the second half. Both teams missed seven free throws in half, but WT was 17-of-24 at the charity stripe in the period, while A&M-Commerce was 11-of-18 and didn’t have a chance at the free-throw line in the final 3:19.
HEAD COACH SAM WALKER AFTER THE GAME
On the way, the teams went back and forth all night
“It looked like we just picked up where we left off in Commerce. What a game. It was just a battle by both teams. I thought they played well. I figured we got the best that they could play and I thought they got the best that we can play. I told their coach after the game. That’s as good as we can play right there. I’m proud of my guys, and he should be proud of his men. We had an excellent night, and they beat us.”
On how his team performed
“I thought we shot the ball well. I figured our players shared the ball and we defended well. The game was played so fast with breakneck speed and teams burying shots against each other. And there were 74 free throws shot. It was just one of those games. And it was efficient. It wasn’t like teams were coming down and had one pass and one shot. It was cut, cut, a guy comes off a screen, shoot it and make it. We would come down and cut, cut and come off a ball screen and drive for a layup. It was just back and forth. If you paid a ticket to come and watch this game, you got to see a good one. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t come up on the winning end.”
On where his team is with one game to play
This game produced a very efficient team. There is a reason why they have the wins that they have. And there is a reason why we have the wins that we have. I came into the locker room and told the guys how proud I am of them. At this time of the year, you want to be playing good basketball, and we played good basketball tonight.
Lions fall behind early, can’t recover against WT, fall 79-51 — LINK
CANYON– The Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team suffered a 79-51 loss to West Texas A&M on Thursday. The Lions fell behind early in the first quarter and could never recover.
The loss drops the Lions to 19-8 on the season and 13-6 in the Lone Star Conference. WT goes to 21-7 and 14-5 in conference play. WT takes over third place in the conference standings with one game remaining.
The Lions finish the regular season on Saturday as they travel to take on UT-Permian Basin. The game is at 2:00 p.m. at the UTPB Gymnasium in Odessa.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– The Lions struggled from the field from the opening tip. The Lions shot 25 percent from the field. WT shot 50 percent from the field and 56 percent from behind the arc.
– Krystal Pickron led the Lions with 16 points, including going 4-of-6 from the three-point line.
– Khala Riley had nine points and led the Lions with five assists. Artaejah Gay had five points and led the team with seven rebounds.
– The Lions forced 18 turnovers but gave up 17 turnovers. WT scored 21 points off of turnovers while the Lions scored 14.
– The Lions were outscored 28-14 in the paint.
– Alie Decker led WT with 17 points. Madison Parker had 15 points and seven rebounds. Maddison Wild had a double-double with 14 points, and ten rebounds and Sasha Watson had 13 points and five assists for the Lady Buffs.
– The Lions trailed by as many as 30 and never led in the game.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lions fell behind early as WT scored the first 10 points of the match, including five from Wild. The Lady Buffs hit two three-pointers on that run. Pickron broke the Lion scoring drought with a three of her own after the Lions went scoreless for four minutes.
WT continued to build on its lead. After a layup from Penina Faumui cut the WT lead down to seven, the Lady Buffs went on a 9-0 run to push their lead to 16 before a late basket from Riley sent the Lions into the first quarter break trailing 22-8.
Both teams went scoreless in the first two minutes of the quarter before WT again pushed its lead to 16. Pickron hit another three and seemed to catch fire from behind the arc. After another WT basket, Riley hit a three of her own and then got a steal on the next possession and finished the break off with a layup to cut the WT lead to 10 with six minutes to play in half. Pickron hit another three to cut the Lady Buff lead back to single digits.
Midway through the quarter, the Lions hit another field goal slump. They went three minutes without a field goal, and WT pushed its lead back to 14 points. The Lions finished the half on the run. With two minutes to play, Pickron got to the free throw line and netted two points. Courtney Fields then got a steal and layup to cut the lead back to 10. Pickron had a layup with a minute to play, and after back-to-back turnovers by WT, Jenna Price hit a layup with nine seconds to send the Lions into halftime down 36-28.
Pickron led all scorers with 13 points, including 3-of-5 from downtown. She also had two assists. Riley had seven points and three assists in the first half. Wild led WT with nine points and pulled down six rebounds. Decker added eight points, five rebounds and three assists for the Lady Buffs.
Things began to snowball for the Lions in the third quarter. With eight minutes to go in the quarter, WT went on a 7-0 run to bring their lead to 15 points. Pickron again hit a three before the Lady Buffs took complete control of the game. WT scored 10 of the next 11 points to push their lead to 21 points. That lead was 23 before the horn of the third quarter. The Lions trailed 60-38 at the end of the third.
WT hit back-to-back threes to open up the fourth quarter to bring their lead to a game-high 28. The Lions held the Buffs without a field goal for more than seven minutes, but the Lions continued their cold streak. The Lions missed 10 of their first 12 shots in the fourth quarter. Both teams were able to score from the free-throw line, but the Lions could not mount a run.
Head Coach Jason Burton after the game
On what happened to the team this game
“It was one of those days. We had a significant lack of toughness today. We lacked mental toughness, toughness to fight through runs by them. We let things in our minds affect us, and that hasn’t happened to us before. It kind of just snowballed today. It was just one of those things.”
On how WT played
“They came off a loss, and they regrouped and sharpened things up. Even without Sasha Watson [for a long stretch], I thought they played a good game. We’ve got to make sure we come back and are ready to go on Saturday.
On struggles from the field and the free throw line
“I thought this week, some of the things that we practiced didn’t translate to the game. And I thought our guards didn’t attack as much. Later on in the competition, we started to get to the free throw line more, but we didn’t convert. We shot more free throws than they did but we didn’t shoot a very high percentage.”
On recovering from the loss with the conference tournament looming
“The good thing is that although it was a playoff-like atmosphere as far as the game and what it meant, we still have basketball ahead of us. We’ve got a lot to learn from this, and we still have one more on this trip. We have the ability to bounce back and get one in two days. We have to learn from this one today and figure out who we are and who we want to become next week.”
Assistant Athletics Director for Communications | Texas A&M University-Commerce