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SOFTBALL

Lions battle back from deficit before dropping 6-4 decision to Cameron

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team battled back from a three-run deficit to tie Friday night’s game with Cameron in the sixth inning, but the visiting Aggies scored twice in the top of the seventh to hand the Lions a 6-4 defeat in Lone Star Conference action.

The Lions fall to 12-6 overall and 2-2 in the LSC, while Cameron jumps to 17-5 overall and 6-1 in the league. The two teams will meet Saturday again, with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at A&M-Commerce’s John Cain Family Softball Field.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
The Lions’ Kinsie Hebler reached base in all five plate appearances, with four singles and a walk. She also had a RBI and a run scored.
The Lions outhit Cameron 13-8 but stranded 13 runners on base.
December Rivers hit her first homerun of the season in the fifth inning.
Katie Dean was tagged with the loss, allowing five runs – four earned – on seven hits in 6.0 innings with two strikeouts and five walks.
Chealsea Slider and Mariah Jameyson each had two hits for the Lions.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Hebler led off the bottom of the first with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Baylea Higgs. Jameyson laced a single to centerfield to plate Hebler and give the Lions the 1-0 advantage.

Cameron plated a run in the top of the second on a delayed double steal from first and third to tie the game. The Lions left the bases loaded in the second and had a runner stranded in scoring position in the third.

The Aggies’ Cameron Warren gave the guests their first lead of the night with a towering three-run homer to left-center with one out in the top of the fourth to make it a 4-1 game.

The Lions plugged away and chipped at the Aggie lead. Hebler had a RBI single to the right in the bottom of the fourth, and Rivers led off the bottom of the fifth with her first homer of the season to right-center.

A Higgs RBI singles up the middle in the bottom of the sixth tied the game up, and the Lions had the bases loaded with two outs before a groundout left the go-ahead run on the board.

Cameron took advantage of an error in the seventh after a leadoff single. A dropped ball in the outfield followed by a sacrifice fly plated the go-ahead and insurance run.

Ciera Nunez was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the seventh and Hebler’s fourth single of the night put the tying run on base with two outs, but Higgs popped up to end the game.

BASKETBALL

Lions advance to semifinal round of LSC tournament, defeat Cameron 54-52 — LINK
ALLEN– The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team overcame a tough shooting night to beat Cameron University 54-52 on Friday in the first round of the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament. The Lions struggled from the field but hit their free throws in the game to get the win.

The success brings A&M-Commerce to 19-9 on the season and advance to the second round of the LSC tournament The Aggies fall to 17-12, eliminating them from tournament play.

The Lions return to action on Saturday as they take on No. 1 seeded UT Permian Basin. The Lions lost both games to the Falcons in the regular season. The game will begin at 8:30 p.m. at the Allen Events Center. If the Lions win, they will advance to the championship game on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– Malik Albert led the Lions with a double-double of 18 points and ten rebounds. He shot 7-of-17 from the field.
– Trey Seymore had 12 points and made 6-of-7 from the free throw line. He hit a crucial three-pointer late to swing the momentum toward the Lions.
– Jovan Austin shot 7-of-8 from the line and finished with 10 points. Dorian Armstrong had 12 rebounds and four points for the Lions.
– After shooting 24 percent from the field in the first half, the Lions shot 39 percent in the second half. The teams were a combined 11-of-45 from the field in the first 15 minutes of the game.
– Though the Lions struggled from the free throw line in the regular season, the Lions shot 74 percent from the free-throw line in the match. The Lions made 13-of-14 free throws in the second half.
– The Lions held CU to just 1-of-17 from behind the three-point line.
– There were nine ties and 15 lead changes in the game. The Lions did not trail in the final eight and a half minutes.
– All nine Aggie players got on the scoreboard. Trey Hall led the team with 12 points.

HOW IT HAPPENED
Each team made its first shot of the game but that was as good as the shooting percentage would get for either team. The Lions had turnovers on consecutive possessions, but the Aggies couldn’t turn them into points.

Both teams struggled mightily from the field in the first half. CU missed nine straight shots in a four-minute span after making two of their first three. The Lions also struggled from the field, missing eight consecutive shots of their own.

Starting at the 15-minute mark, the Lions had a scoring drought that lasts more than seven minutes. Cameron also continued struggled but went on a 6-0 run that took them seven minutes to produce.

The Lions finally got back on the board with seven minutes to play, breaking the scoring drought that lasted a third of the first half on a layup by Armstrong. Carson hit a three-pointer with five minutes to go in the half that gave the Lions the lead back.

However, the Aggies hit four consecutive shots to push their lead to five with three minutes to play in half. Trailing 19-14, the Lions scored five of the final seven points of the half to trail 21-19 at halftime.

Albert had eight points at halftime to lead the Lions. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Carson added five points for A&M-Commerce. No player on Cameron had more than four points in the half. Eight of the nine Aggie players that entered the game in the first half got on the scoreboard.

Albert hit a three to start the second half, and the Lions regained the lead. The teams then went back and forth as the Aggies went on a 5-0 run followed by a 7-2 run by A&M-Commerce, including five points from Austin, that gave the Lions a one-point lead with 15 minutes left in the game.

The Lions then had another struggle from the field, going without a field goal for more than five minutes. However, A&M-Commerce got to the free throw line, and it aided their cause. Carson hit a layup at the 11-minute mark, and Seymore hit a three to give the Lions a one-point lead midway through the second half.

Austin came on late for the Lions, hitting his free throws and the Lions were in business. They made five consecutive shots, including a three-point play from Albert that gave the Lions a 48-42 lead with seven minutes to play.

The Lions hit another cold spell, going without a point for more than four minutes and the game tied at 48 with a minute to go. Seymore hit a three to give the Lions a three-point lead before a quick CU basket brought the lead to one.

With 25 seconds to go, Albert lulled the defense to sleep and rifled down the lane and laid the ball in bed to give the Lions a three-point lead. A CU shot went wide, and Armstrong skied for the rebound. Seymore was fouled and made a free throw to seal the win. A buzzer beater shot from CU was to no avail.

BASKETBALL

Lions fall 55-49 to Tarleton State in LSC Championship Quarterfinals, await regional rankings — LINK
ALLEN– The Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team lost a tightly contested battle to Tarleton State 55-49 on Friday in the first round of the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament. The Lions held the lead in the fourth quarter but struggled from the field throughout the game.

The loss brings A&M-Commerce to 20-9 on the season and eliminates them from tournament play. The TexAnns jump to 14-13 and advance to the second round of the LSC tournament and will face Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday.

The Lions now look toward the announcement of the NCAA Division II Tournament field, which will be released Sunday night. The Lions were ranked eighth in the South Central Region on March 1. The top eight teams in the region will advance to the first round of the NCAA tournament, played at the site of the No. 1 seed in the region. The tournament begins on March 10 at a location yet to be determined.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– There were 31 total turnovers in the game, including 12 in the first quarter.
– The Lions struggled from the field, shooting 35 percent overall. TSU shot 36 percent.
– Khala Riley led the Lions with 12 points. She also had two assists. Brianna Wise had 10 points, three rebounds, and four assists.
– Artaejah Gay had eight points and six rebounds. Krystal Pickron also had eight points, including two critical threes to keep the Lions in the game.
– Recently named LSC Freshman of the Year Jenna Price had 13 rebounds.
– TSU outrebounded the Lions 39-32. TSU had 13 offensive rebounds and turned them into 13 second-chance points.
– There were six ties and five lead changes in the game. The Lions led for 23:35 while TSU led for 10:50.
– Mackenzie Hailey had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the TexAnns. Travanti Downes and Bailey Wipff had 10 points each, and Ikpeaku Iwobi added nine points for TSU.

HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lions had four turnovers in their first six possession but held TSU to just one make in five tries in the first four minutes and four turnovers of their own. A&M-Commerce held a 9-2 lead midway through the first quarter.

The Lion defense was strong early on, as TSU missed six consecutive shots and was held scoreless for more than four minutes early in the quarter. TSU shot just 2-of-14 in the first quarter. Gay had back-to-back buckets, and a three from Riley sent the Lions into the second quarter up 16-5.

The swarming defense continued for the Lions to begin the second quarter. Wise had a blocked shot, and then Courtney Fields had a steal early on. The TexAnns started to go on a run with eight minutes to go in the second quarter. They held the Lions without points for more than five minutes and scored 10 points of their own to cut into the Lion lead. A&M-Commerce had an 18-17 lead with three minutes to play.

The Lions broke out of their slump late in the quarter, scoring two late buckets but those were matches by the TexAnns, and the Lions took a 22-21 lead into halftime.

Riley led the Lions with seven points at halftime. Wise and Gay each had four points. Price led the Lions with eight rebounds. The Lions had ten turnovers in the first half, seven of which came in the first quarter. Hailey and Iwobi both had seven points to lead TSU.

TSU hit a three to take its first lead of the game on the first play of the second half. The Lions took the lead right back, as Wise hit a layup and then Gay hit one of her own. The lead hovered at four for the first five minutes of the quarter.

Penina Faumui came in and was a spark for the Lions. She had an offensive rebound and put back and then had a steal on the defensive end. With three minutes to play, the third quarter tied at 32.

The TexAnns made a run late in the third quarter. TexAnns scored eight unanswered points, holding A&M-Commerce scoreless for the final four minutes of the third quarter. TSU led 36-32 going into the final quarter.

The Lions broke their scoring drought when Riley got to the free throw line in the first minute of the fourth. On the next possession, Pickron hit a three to tie the game back up. Pickron then got a steal and gave the Lions back the lead with eight minutes to go in the match.

The Lions again hit a scoring drought early in the fourth. After the Lions had retaken the lead, the TexAnns scored the next six points and led 42-38 midway through the quarter. Again free throws from Riley broke the streak. However, the shots continued not to fall for the Lions as they went five minutes without hitting a shot.

Pickron hit another three with two minutes to play to cut the TexAnn lead to just two. Wise hit a layup of her own and then drew contact to get to the free throw line. She knocked them both down, and the Lions trailed by two with 43 seconds to play. The Lions fouled, but TSU hit its free throws down the stretch to get the win.