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TAMUC – Sports

Lions qualify for NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship for the third straight season.

INDIANAPOLIS – For the third straight season, the Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team has qualified for the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship, as announced by the NCAA on Sunday night. 

The Lions (13-3) are the third seed in the South Central Region, comprised of the Lone Star and Great American Conferences this season. A&M-Commerce will face off against sixth-seeded Southern Nazarene University on Friday at 7:45 pm in its opening round. Tickets for the tournament will go on sale at 10:00 am Wednesday HERE. 

West Texas A&M University will host this year’s regional tournament at the First United Bank Center in Canyon on March 12-13-15. The top six teams in the LSC and GAC qualified, with the top two seeds earning byes to the regional semifinal. 

Lubbock Christian is the top seed, and Southwestern Oklahoma State is the second seed. Arkansas Tech is the fourth seed, followed by Cameron as the fifth seed. 

The Lions are the LSC North Division Champions for the second consecutive season and advanced to the LSC Tournament Championship Game before falling to Lubbock Christian on Saturday. 

The fourth time in program history, the Lions have qualified for the NCAA Championship and third year in succession under head coach Jason Burton. They knocked the Lions out in 2019 in the regional quarterfinal at Colorado Mesa. The 2020 Lions prepared for a regional quarterfinal against Eastern New Mexico when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the tournament. The 2007 Lions went 3-1 in the NCAA Tournament, winning the regional and advancing to the Elite Eight under Hall of Fame coach Denny Downing. 

Game times for the regional tournament will be released early in the week. The Lion Sports Network will carry all NCAA Championship games live on 88.9 KETR-FM in Commerce and online at www.KETR.org.

Cold start dooms second-seed Lions in 78-57 loss to top-seed Lubbock Christian in LSC Championship game.

LUBBOCK– A cold start was too much to overcome for the second-seed Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team. The Lions fell 78-57 to the top-seed and national No. 1 Lubbock Christian in the Lone Star Conference Championship game Saturday afternoon. 

The Lions are now 13-3 on the season, while LCU is 17-0. It was the second consecutive meeting between the two schools in the LSC Championship game. 

The Lions will now await the NCAA Division II Championship field’s announcement on NCAA.com at 9:00 pm Sunday. The top six teams from the LSC and Great American Conference will qualify, with the top two seeds earning byes to the regional semifinals. The South Central Regional will be at West Texas A&M’s First United Bank Center in Canyon on March 12-13-15. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– The Lions were limited to 27.5 percent shooting (19-of-69) from the game floor, while LCU shot 52.7 percent (29-of-55) from the floor.

– Ravae Payne (Pearland) scored 14 points off the bench to lead the Lions, scoring three three-pointers.

– Dyani Robinson (Cypress – Langham Creek) scored 13 points as the Lions’ only other double-digit scorer.

– DesiRay Kernal (Newton, Kan.) and Chania Wright (DeSoto) each earned All-Tournament honors. Kernal had six points and seven rebounds in the final after a pair of double-doubles in the first two rounds.

– Juliana Louis (Long Beach, Calif.) had eight points and seven rebounds.

HEAD COACH JASON BURTON AFTER THE GAME

“It’s extremely tough to play a hard-fought battle – one that took everything out of us – at 6:45 on Friday night and turn around at 3:00 pm against the No. 1 team in the country on their home floor. It’s a difficult situation, and I thought our girls competed as much as they could. The thing with that is, some of our shots just didn’t fall. Our effort was there, though. We’ve got 25 offensive rebounds. We put ourselves in position with the number of shots we were able to get up – 69 to their 55 – they’ve just got to fall. We didn’t really get to the free-throw line until late, and when we did, our shots were a little short. We normally shoot in the high 70s when it comes to the free throws, and we were in the 60s today. A lot of little things added up to this loss, but I’m really proud of our girls and what we’ve been able to accomplish to this point in the season. 

“This season is far from over, and there’s a lot of basketball yet to be played for us. I’m confident in this team’s ability to win games in the NCAA Tournament. 

“I don’t think we saw anything we didn’t expect. I think we didn’t match their level of physicality. We’re used to some of the contacts that happened to lead to us getting to the foul line, and that didn’t happen today. They allowed us to play a little more physically in the first half, and I did a poor job as a coach of making that adjustment and making us play a little more physically. That could have played a big role for us – that could have been an advantage for us if we’d been a little more physical. That’s just something that we’ve got to adjust to next time we’re on the floor in the postseason and be the aggressor. The most aggressive team won the game today.” 

HOW IT HAPPENED

Early shooting woes started the Lions off on the wrong foot, as A&M-Commerce missed its first eight field-goal attempts. In that time, the Lady Chaps made only two shots from the floor, but four free throws gave LCU an 8-0 lead before Wright put the Lions on the board with a three-pointer four minutes into the game. Kernal scored the Lions’ other four points in the period, as both teams went scoreless in the final three minutes of the quarter. The Lady Chaps led 17-7 after 10 minutes. 

The sides went back-and-forth early in the second quarter, and the Lions had the deficit down to eight points with 7:42 left in the half before LCU heated up from deep. Over the next five minutes, the top seed went on a 15-2 run with a trio of three-pointers to go ahead by 21 points. The Lions managed to score the final two baskets of the period, making it a 36-19 game headed to the intermission. 

The Lions shot only 25 percent (8-of-32) in the period, while LCU was 14-of-25 (56.0 percent). There were 23 combined turnovers in half, and the Lions held a 20-16 rebounding advantage. 

The 18-point deficit held for the first two and a half minutes of the quarter before LCU surged again, scoring a 14-2 run and taking a 30-point lead. Payne scored seven points for the Lions in the final minute of the frame, and the score stood at 61-35 headed to the last quarter. 

The Lions outscored the Lady Chaps, 22-17, in the fourth quarter, but the damage had been done. After a 4-0 Lion run to start the quarter, LCU went on a 9-0 run to claim a 31-point lead with 5:35 to play. The Lions responded with an Asiyha Smith (Conway, Ark.) three-point play and four points from Robinson and Kernal. Jordyn Beaty (Woodville) scored twice, and Payne scored the Lions’ final seven points before the final horn.

The No. 5 Lions welcome No. 17 Lady Buffs to town for the second LSC series.

COMMERCE – After opening the Lone Star Conference slate with a double shutout sweep, the No. 5 Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team faces a stern test Sunday with a two-game set against No. 17 West Texas A&M. 

WHO: West Texas A&M at A&M-Commerce

WHERE: Commerce | John Cain Family Field

WHEN: 1:00 pm on Sunday, March 7

RECORDS: A&M-Commerce is 8-4 and 2-0 in the Lone Star Conference. West Texas A&M is 12-2 overall and 0-2 in the LSC.

RANKINGS: A&M-Commerce is ranked fifth nationally in the NFCA Division II Coaches’ Poll. West Texas A&M is ranked 17th.

LIVE VIDEO: LSC Digital Network

LIVE STATS: http://statbroadcast.com/events/statmonitr.php?gid=tame 

The latest

A&M-Commerce is on a four-game winning streak after sweeping Eastern New Mexico with a pair of run-rule shutouts. The Lions hit .409 in the series with 20 RBIs and six extra-base hits in only eight offensive innings. 

Four Lions – Madison SchaeferUxua ModregoChealsea Slider, and Ta’Lyn Moody – scored three apiece. Schaefer and Avery Boley lead the LSC in RBIs with four apiece. In the circle, Alyssa LeBlanc and Emily Otto were dominant, striking out 17 and allowing no walks and four singles – three of which did not leave the infield. 

Overall, the Lions are hitting .290 for the year with a 2.42 team ERA and .980 fielding percentage. 

On the opponent

The Lady Buffs fell to No. 10 UT-Tyler on Friday night to open conference play 0-2 as UTT defeated WT 8-1 and 10-3. 

UTT outhit WT 19-12 to hand the Lady Buffs their first losses of the season, ending a 12-game win streak. Six Lady Buffs recorded hits against the Patriots led by Shanna McBroom and Alyx Cordell, each hit .500. McBroom went 4-for-8 at the plate with one double and two runs, while Cordell had three hits with two doubles and one RBI. 

In the circle, Emilee Wilson (3-1) and Kyra Lair (7-1) each recorded their first losses of the season, allowing 16 runs (13 earned) on 15 hits as the Patriots hit .339 against the Lady Buffs. 

In the series history

The Lions are 3-14 all-time against the Lady Buffs. The teams were unable to meet up last season, but the Lions won the final game in the series, 13-5, in 2019.

Second-seed Lions advance to LSC Championship Game with 60-54 win over third-seed West Texas A&M.

A&M-Commerce will make its third LSC title game appearance at 3 pm Saturday vs. No. 1 Lubbock Christian.

LUBBOCK – Another DesiRay Kernal double-double and a strong defensive performance led the second-seeded Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team to a 60-54 win over third-seeded West Texas A&M in the Lone Star Conference Championship semifinal game on Friday night. 

The Lions move to 13-2 on the season with the victory, while the Lady Buffs are 15-6.

A&M-Commerce advances to the LSC Championship Game against No. 1 Lubbock Christian at 3:00 pm Saturday. The Lady Chaps defeated Cameron, 84-69, in the other semifinal. 

NOTES

– The Lions and LCU will meet in the LSC Championship Game for the second consecutive season. It marks the first LSC Championship Game rematch dating back to 2008 and 2009.

A&M-Commerce will appear in its third LSC Women’s Championship game, winning the Field House title in 2007 and falling to LCU in Frisco last year.

– The 54 points allowed are the fewest allowed by the Lions in an LSC Tournament game. The previous low was 55 to Tarleton in a quarterfinal loss in 2017. The last low in a TAMUC win was 57 in a 65-57 win over Angelo State in the 2007 semifinals.

– This is the Lions’ second-ever postseason win over WT and eighth win in the series overall. It is also the first win on a neutral floor over the Lady Buffs. 

HEAD COACH JASON BURTON AFTER THE GAME

On this tight nature of the semifinal:

“We jumped out to an early lead and held it. It was back and forth all night. That’s the type of game we hadn’t played in this year. You never really got separation either way and could never really get comfortable. For us to play the way, we played today lets me know a lot about this team. You’re hoping that in a 28-game regular season, you kind of get a game or two like that and experience it. We haven’t really had that this year until now, in-game 15 for us.” 

On the team after the game:

“They were gassed, but they know what’s at stake tomorrow. It wasn’t just about this win. It was also about the next win. That’s the most locked-in I’ve seen this team play in a long time. It reminded me of us at home last year against Lubbock. Somehow we’ve got to bottle up that same thing we did today and do it tomorrow.” 

On the quick turnaround for the championship game:

“This team has done a really good job of going into a room, listening to a game plan, and executing it. That’s what we have to do for tomorrow. The most important thing now is to get rest, get hydrated because it’s going to be a grind it out the game.” 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– Kernal (Newton, Kan.) scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Lions, who shot 34.5 percent (19-of-55) from the floor.

– Chania Wright (DeSoto) scored 19 points, including four key three-pointers.

– The Lions held WT nearly 13 points under its previous scoring average, forcing 22 Lady Buff turnovers. The Lady Buffs shot 44.7 percent (21-of-47) from the floor, but only 1-of-7 from the three-point range.

– A&M-Commerce had a 36-26 rebounding advantage and scored 19-second chance points. 

HOW IT HAPPENED

The Lady Buffs started the game on the right foot for the lower seed, making three of their first five shots for an early 7-6 lead before the Lion defense put the clamps on their maroon-clad foes. From the 6:53 mark of the first quarter, WT missed its final eight field-goal attempts of the period. In the meantime, the Lions were not sparkling from the field but took advantage of free-throw opportunities. Kernal scored seven points down the stretch, and the Lions notched the final seven points of the period for a 14-6 lead after the first stanza. 

Kernal netted a three-point play in the early stages of the second period, and layups by Wright and Agang Tac (Sachse) allowed the Lions to claim their largest lead of the night at 13 points with 6:25 left in half. The Lions still led by 12 with 2:35 to go. Then Ravae Payne (Pearland) had a layup, but WT closed the half on a 7-3 run to narrow the gap to 28-20 at the intermission. 

The third quarter saw momentum volley back and forth between the teams. The Lions held a nine-point lead with 2:54 left in the frame, but LSC Player of the Year Lexy Hightower scored four straight free throws to bring the game back to two possessions at 37-32. Tac hit a layup, and Wright drained a three to put the lead back in double digits, but the Lady Buffs scored a late basket to keep the margin at eight points entering the final frame. 

Kernal started the fourth quarter with a three-point play, and the Lions had an 11-point lead with 8:44 to go, but the Lady Buffs showed their postseason experience and did not pack it in. A five-point WT run cut the advantage down to 54-50 with 1:22 on the clock, but Wright drained her most crucial basket of the night – a corner three-pointer – with a minute to play, putting the Lions back on top by seven. The senior canned three free throws in the final minute, allowing the Lions to hold on for the win and their second straight LSC Championship Game appearance.

The No. 5 Lions earn double shutout sweep of Eastern New Mexico to open LSC play

COMMERCE – The No. 5 Texas A&M University-Commerce softball team was dominant to open the 2021 Lone Star Conference season, cruising to 12-0 and 13-0 wins over Eastern New Mexico on Friday evening. 

The Lions move to 8-4 overall and 2-0 in the LSC. The Greyhounds fall to 0-2 overall and in the LSC after their first season.

A&M-Commerce will host No. 17 West Texas A&M at 1:00 pm Sunday. 

HEAD COACH RICHIE BRUISTER AFTER THE GAMES 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE (Game 1)

– Alyssa LeBlanc (Katy) went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Madison Schaefer (Frisco – Independence) and Uxua Modrego (Burlada, Spain) also had a pair of hits.

– Schaefer, Avery Boley (Fort Worth – Nolan Catholic), and Chealsea Slider (Texarkana – Texas) drove in two runs.

– Emily Otto (Lamar Consolidated) allowed only one hit, struck out nine, and walked none to move to 1-2 on the year. 

HOW IT HAPPENED (Game 1)

The Lion offense rolled on a rusty Greyhound defense early, scoring eight runs in the first inning, scoring all with two outs. LeBlanc’s two-run single and Slider’s two-run double to center set up the surge. The Lions’ final four runs scored without the ball leaving the infield. 

The two-out scoring continued in the third when Boley doubled to the right, and LeBlanc singled to the right-center gap, pushing the lead to 10-0. 

Otto cruised in the circle with the game in hand, only allowing a leadoff infield single in the top of the second. No Greyhounds advanced past first base at any point in the contest. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE (Game 2)

– The Lions only needed to collect eight hits to earn the nightcap win, with Schaefer and Modrego each had two hits. Schaefer smoked her fourth homer of the season.

– Schaefer, Modrego, and Boley each drove in two runs.

– LeBlanc earned the win with four shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out eight. Saylor Williams (Jacksonville) closed out the game with a perfect inning with two strikeouts. 

HOW IT HAPPENED (Game 2)

This offensive barrage started in the second inning after Slider hit an RBI single, and the Lions earned another two-out rally. Ta’Lyn Moody reached on an error to plate two, followed by Schaefer’s two-run bomb to make it a 5-0 lead. 

The Lions clinched the early win in the third, scoring eight runs, including back-to-back two-run hits from Modrego and Boley, as well as the fourth career triple from Kinsie Hebler (Cy Falls). 

LeBlanc was dominant again, as only one runner reached scoring position all night for ENMU.

Perera, Light takes top regional honors from USTFCCCA

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The men’s high jump powered Texas A&M University-Commerce to regional field honors from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches’ Association (USTFCCCA) Friday. Ushan Perera was named the South Central Region Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, and Rock Light was named the South Central Region Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. 

Perera – a freshman from Mahabage, Sri Lanka – is ranked first nationally in the high jump at 2.25m (7-4½), a mark that puts him No. 6 in divisional history and tied for third on the All-College List this season. He hasn’t missed a bar yet, clearing the first 14 heights of his collegiate career. The clearance of 2.25m also claimed the Sri Lankan indoor national record and the Lone Star Conference championship. 

He is the second Lion to earn indoor regional field athlete of the year honors, joining Florian Obst in 2018. 

In his third year at A&M-Commerce, Coach Light coached the region’s top two high jumpers, and the high jump event squad ranks No. 1 in the nation. Along with Perera, Micky Ferdinand gives the Lions a unique combination of events – he’s tied for No. 2 in the high jump regionally and checks in at No. 5 in the pole vault. 

Perera, Ferdinand, and three other Lions are preparing for next week’s NCAA Division II National Championships in Birmingham, Ala.