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TAMUC – Sports

Lions break 51-year old school record en route to 78-74 win over UT Tyler.

A&M-Commerce makes 16-of-16 free throws.

COMMERCE – For the second straight night, the Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team fought back from a late deficit for a four-point win over UT Tyler, as the Lions picked up a 78-74 victory over the Patriots in the Field House on Saturday. 

The Lions move to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Lone Star Conference, while UT Tyler falls to 2-9 and 1-9. 

A&M-Commerce returns to action next Friday on the road with the first of two games at Angelo State. The tipoff on January 29 in San Angelo is 7:30 pm. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– The Lions were perfect at the free-throw line, going 16-of-16 from the charity stripe to establish a school record for made free throws without a miss. They set the previous record of 14-of-14 on February 16, 1970, in a 66-64 loss at Sul Ross State. It is the third overall perfect free throw night on record, including a 3-for-3 night vs. Angelo State on February 1, 2020.

– Augustine Ene (Carrollton – Creekview) led the Lions in scoring with 21 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with six. It marked the third consecutive game where the Lions’ leading scorer had 21 markers.

– Demarcus Demonia (Fort Washington, Md.) had 13 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

– Devin Bethely (Baton Rouge, La.) and Dante Adams (Osceola, Ark.) each scored 11 points.

– The Lions shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) from the floor and picked up the win despite UT Tyler shooting 50.9 percent (28-of-55).

– There were 11 ties and 17 lead changes in the game, and neither team led by double digits at any point in the game.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The first half was a dogfight throughout, with neither side able to extend a lead to more than two possessions in the opening 20 minutes of action. UT Tyler took the lead with a pair of free throws on the opening possession. Then they tied the game with a Bethely jumper. The Patriots did not fall behind A&M-Commerce in the first eight and a half minutes of the game. They led by as many as five points. 

The Lions took their first lead of the game thanks to a 9-3 run capped by a Carius Key (Irving – MacArthur) steal and breakaway dunk to put A&M-Commerce up 16-15 with 11:28 on the clock. The lead see-sawed back and forth throughout the half until A&M-Commerce took its largest lead of the period inside the last minute of action. A pair of Adams free throws and an Ene jumper made it 35-31 before a final UTT jumper ahead of the horn. 

There were seven ties and nine lead changes in the half, as A&M-Commerce shot 46.2 percent (12-of-26) from the floor, and UT Tyler made 40.7 percent (11-of-27) of its shots. Ene’s 10 points led the Lions at the break, and neither team missed a free throw in the frame. 

The second half was also closely fought, with critical segments leaning the Lions’ way. With 16:15 on the clock, Ene made a basket, and UT Tyler received a pair of technical fouls. Ene made all four free throws for a six-point possession, which gave A&M-Commerce a 48-43 lead. 

UT Tyler took the lead with 11:44 to play, and the guests stretched that lead to nine points with 5:30 to go. The Lions answered with an Adams triple, Key layup, and Ene three-pointer to narrow the gap back down to 65-64 with 4:09 to play.

With just under two minutes to play, Demonia converted a three-point play to take the Lions’ lead back at 70-68. UT Tyler led as the clock ticked under a minute to play, but Demonia converted a basket shortly after. The Lions got a defensive stop, and Bethely gave the Lions the lead with a late layup. A&M-Commerce made four free throws in the final 10 seconds of action to seal the victory.

Lions fightback from an early deficit to take a 79-75 win over UT Tyler.

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team fought back from a 15-point deficit Friday night and powered to a 79-75 win over UT Tyler in the Field House. 

The Lions move to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the Lone Star Conference, while the Patriots fall to 1-8 and 1-8. 

The Lions and Patriots meet up again on Saturday at 5:30 pm. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– Both teams took 58 shots in the game, with A&M-Commerce making 28 field goals to the Patriots’ 27.

– Demarcus Demonia (Fort Washington, Md.) led all scorers with 21 points, grabbing five rebounds and passing out four assists.

– Augustine Ene (Carrollton – Creekview) scored 19 points, with all of his field goals coming from long range, as he made five three-pointers.

– Donald Ghostone (Grand Prairie) and Dante Adams (Osceola, Ark.) each had career scoring highs off the bench with 15 points and 11 points, respectively. Adams added a team-high seven rebounds.

– Devin Bethely (Baton Rouge, La.) scored 11 points and had eight assists with no turnovers, which will undoubtedly extend his LSC lead in assist-to-turnover ratio.

ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH COLEMAN FURST AFTER THE GAME

On falling behind early:

“I thought we came out sluggish and didn’t handle their press or ball pressure very well. We didn’t get back in transition. I think that was what had us down early in the game and made it a hard hole to climb out. I’m proud of the guys for fighting in an ugly game to come back and get a win.”

On what led to the comeback:

“Our defense allowed us to come back in the game. We started playing more aggressively on offense because of our intensity on defense, and we started playing downhill and getting to the rim, which was huge for us.” 

On the challenge of a back-to-back set of games:

“We’ve got some key players out and a lot of guys who played a lot of minutes tonight. It’s important to get home tonight, hydrate, get off of our feet, then flip the switch, and make sure we succeed in an 80-minute weekend.” 

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Lions won the tip and scored the opening basket on a Demonia dunk, and that two-point advantage remained intact for four minutes before the Patriots went on a 14-2 run. The guests held a 19-9 advantage with 13:28 left in. the half. 

A&M-Commerce responded with a 19-4 rally, with Bethely and Ghostone scoring three each, followed by four from Demonia. That volley cut the visitors’ lead down to 23-19 with just under seven minutes to play.

UT Tyler quickly answered with a 17-6 run in just under five minutes, pushing the lead to 15 points at 40-25 with 2:14 to go in the half. A&M-Commerce scored six straight headed into the final minute, and the UT Tyler halftime lead stood at 42-31. 

The Lions shot 39.3 percent (11-of-28) in the half while UT Tyler was 16-of-29 (55.2 percent). Ene was the leading scorer for both teams at the intermission with nine points. 

The Patriots matched their game-high lead of 15 points at the 16:11 mark of the second half before the Lions roared back. A&M-Commerce went on a 17-7 run over the next four minutes, cutting the lead to five points at 53-48 with 12:15 to go. 

After UT Tyler pushed its lead back out to nine points, the Lions scored the next nine points, five from Demonia and four from Ghostone. That rally tied the game up at 60-all with just under 10 minutes remaining. 

Despite tying the contest, the Lions found that gaining the lead would be a challenge. A&M-Commerce saw its deficit grow back to as many as five points, but the home side took over the game in the final five minutes. 

After trailing 71-67 with 5:30 to play, the Lions outscored UT Tyler 12-4 in the final span. UT Tyler did not make a field goal in the last six minutes until a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer, and A&M-Commerce was on fire. 

An Adams three-pointer and a thunderous pair of Demonia dunks were exclamation points on the Lions’ late comeback. The victory marked the fourth time in the last four seasons where the Lions won after trailing five minutes to play.