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MEN’S BASKETBALL

Lions qualify for NCAA Division II Tournament as South Central Region’s sixth seed

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team will participate in the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championship as the sixth seed in the South Central Region, as announced by the NCAA on Sunday night.

The Lions will play the third seed West Texas A&M at the Colorado School of Mines on Saturday, March 11, at a time to be announced.

A&M-Commerce has a record of 19-10 and qualifies for the NCAA Division II Tournament for the sixth time in program history and makes its 19th postseason appearance all-time. The Lions also made the NCAA Tournament in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2005, and 2015, with a 5-5 all-time record in this tournament.

The Lions and Buffs met twice in the regular season with each team winning a thrilling contest on their home floor. In Commerce, the Lions won a 104-103 double overtime contest, while the Buffs won a 100-98 game in Canyon.

More information will be made available as the tournament approaches.
MEN’S BASKETBALL

Lions battle but ultimately fall to UTPB 76-63 in semifinal round of LSC Championship, look toward regionals

ALLEN– The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team came the closest they had come in three tries, but fell to UT-Permian Basin 76-63 on Saturday in the semifinal round of the Lone Star Conference Championship Tournament. The Lions fell behind early but battled back into the game in the second half before falling short.

The loss drops A&M-Commerce to 19-10 on the season and eliminates them from tournament play. The Falcons jump to 25-5 on the year and advance to the LSC Championship Final played on Sunday.

The Lions now look toward their seeding in the NCAA Tournament field, which will be released Sunday night. A watching event is in room 103 of the Field House at 9:15 p.m. Sunday as the Lions look to learn their potential NCAA destination.

The Lions were ranked sixth 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 11 at a location yet to be determined.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– Malik Albert led the Lions with 18 points, shooting 7-of-17 from the field.
– Trey Seymore had 16 points and six rebounds. Marquieth Russell had ten rebounds to lead the Lions.
– Daquane Willford had seven points, and Dorian Armstrong had six points and seven rebounds.
– The Lions trailed by as many as 19 early in the second half but battled to get the game down to a single digit deficit with 13 minutes to play.
– A&M-Commerce shot 35 percent from the field and 54 percent from the foul line in the game.
– The Lions won the turnover battle, forcing 15 UTPB turnovers.
– The Lions scored the first basket of the match, but that was their only lead. The Lions outscored UTPB in the second half.
– James McPherson led UTPB with 19 points. Daeshon Francis had 17 points, and Josh Morris added 15 points for the Falcons.

HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lions were the first on the board. Seymore had the first six points for the Lions. The Lion defense was strong, forcing five early misses. However, three early turnovers by A&M-Commerce kept the Falcons on top early.

Albert also started strong. He had back-to-back buckets inside the paint. Both teams had five buckets in the first seven minutes. The Lions needed just eight shots to make five while UTPB needed 16. UTPB had five offensive rebounds to give themselves extra opportunities. With twelve minutes to go in the half, the teams tied at 13.

A four-point play from the Falcons pushed the UTPB lead to five with nine minutes to play in half. After a hot shooting start, the Lions began to struggle from the field, missing seven shots in a row. UTPB, in turn, started to make more of its attempts and went on a 10-0 run to take an 11-point lead with six minutes to play in the first half.

After making five of their first eight shots, the Lions went just 6-of-24 the rest of the first half. A buzzer beater three by the Falcons sent the Lions into halftime down 41-27.

Albert led the Lions with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Seymore added eight points and four rebounds. McPherson had 14 points to lead UTPB, and Francis added 11 for the Falcons.

The teams tied with six turnovers in the first half, but UTPB converted them into nine points. The Lions had just two points off of turnovers.

UTPB scored six of the first seven points to bring their lead to 19 early in the second half. The teams then traded points through the next six minutes. The teams even traded three-point plays on back-to-back possessions.

The Lions then went on a run. A three from Albert followed by a four-point play from Seymore. Albert then had a steal and a monstrous dunk to bring the lead down to single digits for the first time since the six-minute mark of the first half. The Lions trailed 51-43 with 13 minutes to play.

The Lions hit a slump in the next three minutes, going scoreless. UTPB capitalized bringing its lead back up to 16 points. The teams traded points for much of the rest of the game, but the Lions couldn’t overcome the deficit. A&M-Commerce continued to battle until the final buzzer sounded.

FOOTBALL

Gold earns 17-0 win over Blue in Blue & Gold Game presented by Alliance Bank

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce football program held its annual Blue & Gold Spring Game presented by Alliance Bank on Saturday morning, with the Gold team earning a 17-0 win over the Blue team.

Teams were drafted by the split coaching staff earlier in the week, with equitable portions of starters and backups on both sides of the ball.

The Gold squad benefitted from wide receiver Buck Wilson’s productivity. He had seven receptions for 141 yards and the fourth-quarter touchdown. He also hauled in a 48-yard reception just before halftime that was marked short of the goal line by mere inches.

Also on the Gold squad, Carandal Hale carried the ball nine times for 54 yards with a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter and a long carry of 31 yards. Gold ran the ball 34 times for 101 yards, while completing 13-of-18 passes for 173 yards and a score.

The Blue squad was more pass-heavy, thanks to the presence of All-American quarterback Luis Perez. Blue completed 24-of-39 passes for 177 yards, with Perez completing 15-of-26 for 129 yards in the first half. Blue quarterbacks found seven different receivers, led by seven catches apiece for Chochy Luce and D’Arthur Cowan.

Kristov Martinez drilled a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter for the Gold squad.

On defense, Pierre Leonard led the Blue team with seven tackles. Blue had four sacks – two each from Josh Reynolds and Michael Wallac. Gold had three players record sacks – Eric Harrell, Michael Onuoha, and Mason Copeland. Mark Westbrook sealed the Gold win with an interception in the late stages of the fourth quarter.

SOFTBALL

Lions drop both ends of doubleheader to Cameron Aggies

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team found itself on the wrong end of both games of Saturday’s Lone Star Conference doubleheader with Cameron University. The visiting Aggies won 9-1 in five innings in the first contest, then took a 9-6 decision in the second game.

A&M-Commerce lost all three games in the weekend series, getting swept for only the second time in program history. The Lions are now 12-8 overall and 2-4 in LSC play, while Cameron is 19-5 overall and 8-1 in the league.

The Lions are next in action on Friday, March 10, when they host Midwestern State at 6 p.m. for the first game of a three-game Lone Star Conference series.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORES
– The Lions had three hits in the first game and 11 hits in the second contest.
– Vanessa Avina and Chealsea Slider each hit their first collegiate home run in the twin bill.
– Ciera Nunez went 3-for-4 with two runs scored in the second game.
– The Lions used four pitchers in the opening contest. Anna Hitt pitched two-thirds of an inning and picked up both of her outs via the strikeout.

HOW GAME ONE HAPPENED
The Aggies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first on a two-out, two-run double by Callie Busby. The Lions were able to get two runners on base in the bottom of the inning, but stranded them at the corners.

Cameron pulled away in the second inning with three runs, as the first three batters got on base and all scored. An unearned run by the Aggies in the fourth made it 6-0.

Avina pinch hit with two out in the fourth and blasted a long homer to left field on an 0-2 count for the Lions’ only run of the game.

The Aggies finalized the shortened game with a three-run homer in the fifth to make it an 8-run lead, then retiring all three Lions in the bottom of the inning.

HOW GAME TWO HAPPENED
A re-shuffled lineup battled back from an early deficit before Cameron pulled away with the final three runs to earn the sweep.

Cameron scored on a sacrifice fly in the opening inning to take an early lead, but the Lions turned a double play to end an early threat.

The first three Lions – Avina, Nunez, and Katie Dean – singled to load the bases early and Johnna Sturm tied the game with an RBI fielder’s choice.

Errors proved to be costly in the second, as the Aggies had five straight batters reach with two outs, scoring five runs – four of which were unearned. Cameron then led 6-1.

The Lions chipped away at that lead. Sturm smoked an RBI double and scored on an error in the third to cut the lead to 6-3.

Cally Pausewang singled to lead off the fourth and she came home on a massive homer by Slider to left-center, narrowing the deficit to one. The tying run was left in scoring position in that inning.

A solo homer by the Aggies pushed the lead back out to two runs in the sixth, and a pair of runs in the seventh added some cushion.

With the tie in sight, the Lions had hard hit balls, but could only manage one baserunner in the final three innings on a December Rivers single with one out in the seventh.