Kernal posts career scoring high as No. 9 Lion women’s basketball falls at Midwestern State.
WICHITA FALLS – The ninth-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team fell in the final minutes to Midwestern State University 83-80 on Sunday afternoon. This game was counted as a non-conference game in the record books after being scheduled to replace a weekend series against No. 3 Lubbock Christian.
The loss brings the Lions to 4-1 on the season while remaining unblemished in LSC play, sitting at 4-0. Midwestern State improves to 3-2 on the young season.
HEAD COACH JASON BURTON AFTER THE GAME
– Thoughts on the game: “I do not think we made the right decisions down the stretch. There were times where we scored a basket, got into a press and we didn’t get in the right position, resulting in layups. We found ourselves not in the right defensive position, and I found that to be the case throughout the game. Early on in the game, we overcame that. When Agang Tac is on the floor, she makes up for so many mistakes on the floor. She knows what to do and where to be. Not having her on the floor for a stretch hurt us.”
– On the play of Keekee Nowlin and DesiRay Kernal: “I thought Keekee played outstanding today. Her mentality as far as going to the basket and playing both ends of the floor, getting her teammates involved, playing defense, and it hurt us when she started cramping up a little bit. When we did not have her on the floor, we were not as good defensively. Offensively, I think it clicked with her that she could find her niche and where to score. She really took attacking to heart today. DesiRay Kernal is an offensive threat. She has been that since she got here. It has always been with her – can she guard the same way she can score? When she does that, she is the best player in the country.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– A&M-Commerce was led by DesiRay Kernal (Newton, Kan.), who managed a career-high for her second time this season with 26 points. She went 8-for-14, was perfect from long range (1-for-1), and efficient from the charity stripe (9-of-12). She was second on the team with seven rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
– MSU outshot the Lions by the end, 46%-39%, despite being neck and neck heading into the final few minutes of play.
– The road team was able to use the line to their advantage, shooting 29-of-34, which is good for 85.3%.
– The Lions forced the Mustangs into 19 turnovers and converted those into 23 points.
– The home squad out-rebounded A&M-Commerce 45-33, including 13-9 on the offensive end of the floor.
– On her birthday, Agang Tac (Garland) led the Lions in rebounds with 10, a season-high for the senior.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lions started hot from the floor as Kernal hit two free throws and her first attempt of the game in the first two minutes of action. The Lions began the quarter with a 7-0 run. Then the Mustangs responded to go on a 13-4 run to follow to flip the lead. Nowlin’s challenging effort led the Lions with eight points in the opening quarter.
After holding a 21-15 lead after one quarter, the Lions took extended the lead to 11 points after a three-pointer from Wright followed by Payne’s jumper. Nowlin would continue to light up the scoreboard to fuel a 6-0 run in under two minutes while forcing Midwestern State into a scoring drought of over nearly three minutes. It was back and forth the rest of the half, and it wrapped up with a banked-in three-point shot by Payne at the buzzer to make it 47-37 at the end of the half.
In the first half, Nowlin, Kernal, and Payne led the team in scoring with 12, 10, and 10, respectively. The Lions were efficient from long range (4-of-7) while shooting 42% from the floor (13-of-31) and were rewarded for their aggression on offense, going to the line 19 times and making 17.
After the half, the hot shooting continued while A&M-Commerce and MSU went back and forth. Both squads had to grind it out on the offensive end to put points on the board and keep pace with one another. The Mustangs cut the lead to as little as six, forcing four Lion turnovers in 2:23 minutes. Kernal stepped up significantly, dominating the scoring for the road team and reaching a new career-high in scoring in just the third quarter. After three periods, the Lions led 71-59.
Heading into the final 10 minutes of action, the Lion lead slowly dwindled through the quarter. The Mustangs kept the A&M-Commerce offense quiet in the last five-plus minutes of play to take the lead in the last minute. Kernal fouled out after her successful career-day to send MSU to the line for their final push, finishing off the Mustang victory.
No. 9 Lion women’s basketball engages in non-conference battle with Midwestern State.
COMMERCE – In a last-minute change up to the weekend schedule, the ninth-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team travels to Wichita Falls for a Sunday afternoon showdown against the Midwestern State Mustangs.
WHO: A&M-Commerce at Midwestern State
WHERE: Wichita Falls | D.L. Ligon Coliseum
WHEN: 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 10
RECORDS: A&M-Commerce (4-0) and MSU (2-2) meet for a game that counts towards their non-conference slate.
RANKINGS: A&M-Commerce has climbed as high as No. 9 in the polls while the Mustangs are unranked.
TELEVISION/LIVE VIDEO: LSC Digital Network
LIVE AUDIO: Lion Sports Network — KETR 88.9 FM, Commerce (http://www.ketr.org)
Head Coach Jason Burton leads A&M-Commerce (4-0, 4-0) and comes off a record-setting 2019-20 season with a lions’ share of firsts for the program. The defending LSC Coach of the Year and his staff led the Lions to a program-high 28-3 record along with the first 20-win Lone Star Conference season for the program. The end of this successful run is one the Lions and their fans will wonder “what could have been” after CoVID-19 brought an abrupt end to the postseason.
The Lions maintain a roster with a mix of new faces and experienced ones. Two returning starters are at the forefront, with a duo of double-digit scoring guards in WBCA Honorable Mention Third All-American WBCA and All-LSC Second Teamer Chania Wright, LSC Freshman of the Year, and Third Team All-Conference selection Dyani Robinson.
With two starters out in last weekend’s sweep of St. Mary’s, A&M-Commerce never missed a beat and saw DesiRay Kernal step up and bump her scoring average up to 16.8 points per game, which is good for fifth in the LSC standings for the season. She led the Lions on both ends of the floor and elevated the Lions to a point where they rank first in the conference in scoring offense (74.8 PPG) and second in scoring defense (57.8).
Midwestern State (2-2, 2-2 LSC) finished the 2019-20 campaign with an 11-16 record, 9-13 in conference play. Former assistant coach and current head coach Christopher Reay took the reigns as the interim head coach and completed the season going 4-6 down the final stretch. He has the Mustangs off to a 2-2 start, splitting each of the first two play weekends.
The Mustangs are well-balanced on the scoring end of things, with three players averaging in double figures in the form of Morgan Lenahan (12.8), Shawnisay Millar (11.3), and Haevyn Risley (10.5). Risley leads the team in rebounding with 6.5 boards per game, and Frances King, who flirts with the double-digit scoring average at 9.8 points per game, leads the team in assists, dishing out 4.8 per game.
A&M-Commerce and MSU are meeting for the forty-eighth time, with the Lions sweeping last year’s series in dominating fashion, 107-70 (1/4/20) and 92-77 (2/13/20). The two teams had one at home and one away. It is the only game scheduled between the Lions and Mustangs this season.
Lion women’s basketball at Lubbock Christian postponed, Sunday game at Midwestern State added.
COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce has announced the postponement of the women’s basketball games scheduled for this Friday and Saturday at Lubbock Christian due to concerns related to CoVID-19 within the LCU women’s basketball program.
The Lions and Lady Chaps have rescheduled a single game on Monday, February 1, at LCU’s Rip Griffin Center.
Additionally, the Lions have added a game this Sunday, January 10, at Midwestern State. The non-conference game will tipoff at 2:00 pm Sunday at MSU’s D.L. Ligon Coliseum and be on the LSC Digital Network (video) and Lion Sports Network (audio).
Stay tuned to LionAthletics.com and our social media channels for updates on schedules throughout the season.