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TAMUC – Sports

Kernal’s double-double leads No. 4 Lions to 81-60 victory at UT Permian Basin

ODESSA – The No. 4 Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team surged early in the fourth quarter and followed freshman DesiRay Kernal’s double-double off the bench for an 81-60 win over the University of Texas of the Permian Basin at the Falcon Dome on Saturday afternoon. 

A&M-Commerce keeps its record-breaking winning streak alive at 19-0 overall and 13-0 in the Lone Star Conference. UT Permian Basin is now 8-11 overall and 5-8 in league play. 

The Lions return home next week for “Fill The Field House Weekend” presented by the Division of Enrollment Management, with vintage logo t-shirts and numerous giveaways for A&M-Commerce students. 

The first game of the big weekend is against defending national champion Lubbock Christian (16-2 overall, 10-2 LSC) in the two regional powers’ first meeting as LSC foes. That game will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, January 30. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– The Lions shot 45.0 percent (27-of-60) from the field, 40.0 percent (6-of-15) from three-point range, and 84.0 percent (21-of-25) from the free-throw line.

– DesiRay Kernal (Newton, Kan.) earned her first career double-double off the bench with 22 points and 12 rebounds. She shot 8-of-9 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. She also drew five fouls.

– Chania Wright (DeSoto) scored 14 points with three assists.

– Alexus Jones (Lewisville) and Alexis Bryant (Pflugerville) each scored 10 points. Bryant had seven rebounds.

– The Lions had a 46-31 rebounding margin and scored 38 points in the paint. 

HEAD COACH JASON BURTON AFTER THE GAME

On having to hold off UTPB and pull away late: “We found a way to win, and it was a big fourth quarter for us that got it done. We faced a little bit of adversity in the first half, where we had three point guards with two fouls, but we found a way to survive it.” 

On the double-double by DesiRay Kernal: “She played really well today and was the spark for us today, and really for the whole road trip. It was a huge trip for her, and I think she’s turned a corner and figured out how she can be very productive for us. The way she’s crashing the offensive glass, she’s finding herself around the rim for easy putbacks. Her attacks on the basket today didn’t look like a freshman. She looked like a bona fide veteran. Her play was necessary, especially against some of their smaller lineups. She was able to guard every position.” 

On the importance of rebounding: “In the last game we lost the rebounding battle, and that’s very uncharacteristic for us. We can’t have that happen, especially against teams that are smaller than us. We did a good job of letting them take one shot in the second half.” 

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Lions struggled to find the hoop early in the game, as the Falcons went ahead 7-3 in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the game. Over the next 3:30, though, A&M-Commerce went on an 11-2 rally. Kernal scored five points in that run to put the Lions up 14-9. TAMUC led 18-13 after the first quarter, thanks in large part to 8-of-10 free-throw shooting in the frame. 

A&M-Commerce shot the lights out in the second quarter, making 7-of-14 shots including 2-of-3 three-pointers and a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Despite that accuracy, the Lions couldn’t pull away, and UT Permian Basin briefly took the lead with 2:45 to play in half. From that point, the Lions closed the half on an 11-2 run, taking a 38-30 lead into the halftime locker room thanks to a Jones three-pointer on the half’s last shot. 

The Falcons negated the Lions’ normal third-quarter surge, outscoring the guests 21-18 in the quarter, as A&M-Commerce shot only 26.3 percent (5-of-19) in the quarter. The Lions had pushed out to a 14-point lead at 47-33 with 6:43 to go in the frame on a Louis three-pointer, but UT Permian Basin cut that lead to as few as three points with a minute to go. A&M-Commerce took a 56-51 lead into the final frame. 

Eight uninterrupted points on three-pointers by Jones and Wright and another Wright layup with 6:43 to play put the Lions back ahead by double digits, and the Lions put the pedal to the metal to earn the final margin. Another 10-point rally featured six points by Kernal, and the lead stood at 75-56 with 3:30 to play. The defense limited UTPB to four more points in that final stretch to close out the key road win.