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TAMUC – Sports

Vela named LSC Setter of the Year; Six other Lions named All-LSC.

RICHARDSON – Seven Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team members received all-conference recognition from the Lone Star Conference during Thursday night’s awards banquet. 

Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) was named LSC Setter of the Year. Vela and Maddy Rashford (Placentia, Calif.) earned the first team all-LSC honors, Essence Allen (Tatum) and Lyric Hebert (Arvada, Colo.) earned the second team all-LSC honors, and Maiya Dickie (Huntsville) was named honorable mention all-LSC. 

Additionally, the all-LSC Academic Team named Vela, Riley Davidson (Commerce), and Nicki Gonelli (Round Rock – Stony Point). The three honorees for the Lions are the most among all LSC schools. 

“I’m really happy for Riley, Nicki, Maria, Maddy, Essence, Celeste, and Lyric,” said A&M-Commerce head coach Craig Case. “Not only are they all great players and deserving of these awards, but they’re great teammates as well. I’m glad that they are being recognized by our conference for their talents and performance this year.” 

Vela put together the best statistical performance of any setter in the LSC. She had 905 assists on an average of 10.4 assists per set in the regular season to lead the conference. Vela had the most assists (51) by a setter in a three-set match this season, as well as two of the top-three performances by an LSC setter. She had 63 assists against Lubbock Christian and 59 against UAFS. Vela has been named an all-LSC player for the third time in her career, and she was named 2018 LSC Freshman of the Year, 2018 honorable mention all-LSC, and 2019 second team all-LSC. Vela is the second LSC Setter of the Year in program history, joining Jordan Neal in 2013. 

Academically, they placed Vela on the all-LSC academic team for the first time in her career. She is an industrial engineering major. 

“Celeste has put in a ton of work on and off the court to continue to make herself a better player and teammate, and this is a wonderful recognition of those efforts,” said Case. “In league with as many talented setters as the LSC has, this is an even greater honor.” 

Rashford is in her third year with the volleyball program, but that was her first season with the Lions. They named her to the LSC All-Freshman team in the spring of 2021. In the fall, she was named LSC Offensive Player of the Week on October 5. She had 260 kills in 22 matches on an average of 3.33 kills per set, which led the team. She also had 31 blocks. 

Allen, like Rashford, is a redshirt freshman who is in her third year in the program. Allen had 247 digs, 239 kills, 23 aces, and 23 blocks. She was second on the team in kills and fourth in digs. It is the first career all-conference honor for Allen. 

For the second time in her career, they named Hebert All-Lone Star Conference, as she was named first-team all-LSC in the spring. Playing primarily as the Lions’ libero, Hebert had 441 digs on an average of 4.79 digs per set. Her most notable performance came in the LSC Championship against Oklahoma Christian, where she had 41 digs in the five-set thriller. Hebert also had team-leading 31 aces and 91 assists. 

Dickie ends her college career with her first All-LSC honor and made an impact offensively and defensively for the Lions this fall. She had 172 kills and team-leading 80 blocks. 

They name Gonelli to the All-LSC Academic team for the second time in her career. She graduated with a degree in sociology last year and is in graduate school, obtaining her degree in counseling. She has been named to the LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll eight times, a Dean’s List Recipient, a Best In Class Scholar, and had most kills without an error (18) in a match in NCAA Division II this year. 

Davidson appeared in all 24 matches this fall and finished second on the team with 268 digs. She was named All-LSC in Spring 2021 and has been named to the President’s List three times, the Dean’s List three times, the LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll eight times, and was a Best In Class Scholar. She graduated with her bachelor of science in business administration and is obtaining her master’s of science in health, kinesiology, and sport studies.


Player Team Yr. Pos. Major Hometown
Sophia Berg Angelo State Sr. MB Biology Georgetown, Texas
Chloe Patton Angelo State Sr. L Biology Gillett, Texas
Arianna Navarrete Cameron So. OH Psychology Tucson, Ariz.
Jalee Sims Lubbock Christian Jr. S Middle School Educ. Amarillo, Texas
Kelsie Schiefelbein Oklahoma Christian Jr. MH Biology Peoria, Ariz.
Kaitlyn Krafka St. Edward’s Sr. OH Kinesiology Kyle, Texas
Mackenzie Catalina Texas A&M International Sr. OH MBA: Marketing Cedar Park, Texas
Riley Davidson A&M-Commerce Grad. DS Health, Kines. and Sport Stud. Commerce, Texas
Nicki Gonelli A&M-Commerce Grad. OH Counseling Round Rock, Texas
Celeste Vela A&M-Commerce Sr. S Industrial Engineering Guadalajara, Mexico
Kelsi Luckenbach Texas A&M-Kingsville Sr. OH Criminology Calallen, Texas
Callie Craus UT Tyler Jr. S Kinesiology Grapevine, Texas
Christina Escamilla UT Tyler Jr. RS Kinesiology Arlington, Texas
Sadie Snay West Texas A&M Jr. S Sports and Exercise Science Kingman, Ariz.

Academic Player of the Year: Sophia Berg, Angelo State

Player of the Year: Kailyn Gilbreath, Angelo State
Offensive Player of the Year: Kailyn Gilbreath, Angelo State
Defensive Player of the Year: Baleigh Allen, Angelo State
Setter of the YearCeleste Vela, A&M-Commerce
Libero of the Year: Chandler Vogel, West Texas A&M
Newcomer of the Year: Halee Van Poppel, DBU
Freshman of the Year: Mikaela Garvin, Eastern New Mexico
Coach of the Year: Chuck Waddington, Angelo State


Player Team Pos. Yr. Hometown
Kailyn Gilbreath Angelo State RS Sr. Ft. Worth, Texas
Baleigh Allen Angelo State MB Sr. Katy, Texas
Halee Van Poppel DBU OH Jr. Argyle, Texas
Hannah Froeschl Lubbock Christian MB Grad. League City, Texas
Jalee Sims Lubbock Christian S Sr. Amarillo, Texas
Alissa Tolbert St. Mary’s OH Sr. San Antonio, Texas
Celeste Vela A&M-Commerce S/RS Jr. Guadalajara, Mexico
Maddy Rashford A&M-Commerce OH R-Fr. Placentia, Calif.
Nicole Murff Texas A&M-Kingsville DS Jr. San Antonio, Texas
Aquincia Strambler UT Permian Basin OH/RS Sr. Midland, Texas
Analise Lucio UT Permian Basin S Sr. Justin, Texas
Mikayla Ware UT Tyler OH Sr. San Antonio, Texas
Christina Escamilla UT Tyler RS Jr. Arlington, Texas
Torrey Miller West Texas A&M OH So. Brownwood, Texas
Chandler Vogel West Texas A&M L Sr. Hereford, Texas


Chloe Patton Angelo State DS Sr. Gillette, Texas
Grace White Angelo State MB Sr. Helotes, Texas
Leah Palensky DBU DS/L Jr. Omaha, Neb.
Jasmine Gannon Eastern New Mexico OH Sr. Clovis, N.M.
Sage Chain Lubbock Christian MB Jr. Schertz, Texas
Emily Tran St. Edward’s S Sr. Eagan, Minn.
Mackenzie Catalina Texas A&M International OH Sr. Cedar Park, Texas
Essence Allen A&M-Commerce OH/S Fr. Longview, Texas
Lyric Hebert A&M-Commerce L/DS Jr. Arvada, Colo.
Ayanna Jackson Texas A&M-Kingsville MB Fr. San Antonio, Texas
Hannah Holland UAFS MB So. Fort Smith, Ark.
Savannah Guzman UT Tyler DS Jr. San Antonio, Texas
Kayla Elliott West Texas A&M MB R-Jr. Wildomar, Calif.
Camy Jones West Texas A&M OH Fr. Portland, Texas
Bria Augustine Western New Mexico OH Sr. Bellflower, Calif.


Sophia Berg Angelo State MB Sr. Georgetown, Texas
Delaney Fuller Angelo State OH So. San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Elsa Lamphere Angelo State OH So. Aurora, Colo.
Arianna Navarrete Cameron OH So. Tucson, Ariz.
Morgan Demuth Oklahoma Christian MH Fr. Mansfield, Texas
Maya Smalls St. Edward’s RS Jr. San Antonio, Texas
Caroline Swan St. Edward’s OH/RS Jr. McKinney, Texas
Julia Aleman St. Mary’s OH So. San Antonio, Texas
Maiya Dickie A&M-Commerce MB/RS R-So. Huntsville, Texas
Trixie Oche Texas Woman’s MB Sr. Richardson, Texas
Bailey Wozniak Texas Woman’s S Jr. Seguin, Texas
Maiya Pena UT Tyler MB Jr. Houston, Texas
Hannah Callison UT Tyler OH/RS Sr. Richmond, Texas
Callie Craus UT Tyler S Jr. Grapevine, Texas
Sadie Snay West Texas A&M S Jr. Kingman, Ariz.


Jaedyn Woolley Angelo State DS Fr. Amarillo, Texas
Audrey Nunes DBU OH/RS Fr. Midlothian, Texas
Mikaela Garvin Eastern New Mexico OH Fr. San Antonio, Texas
Aaliyah Gray Lubbock Christian OH Fr. Lubbock, Texas
Kendall Mahaney Lubbock Christian DS Fr. Lubbock, Texas
Cali Nims St. Mary’s S Fr. Corpus Christi, Texas
Blair Moreland West Texas A&M S/OH Fr. Katy, Texas

The No. 12 seed Oklahoma Christian outlasts No. 5 seed Lion Volleyball in a five-set heartbreaker

COMMERCE – In a match that lasted just under three hours, exciting volleyball treated the 384 fans in the Field House on Tuesday night, between the Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team and the Oklahoma Christian Eagles in the first round LSC Championship. The No. 12 seeded Eagles outlasted the No. 5 seeded Lions, 16-14 in the fifth set to end the Lions’ time in the LSC. 

With the win, the Eagles remain in the Lone Star state and head south to San Angelo for the remainder of the LSC Championship. Oklahoma Christian will face the No. 4 seed, West Texas A&M, on Thursday night in the quarterfinal round of the LSC Championship. 

The Lions end their time in the Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II with the loss on Tuesday night. They exit the conference holding the conference record for most consecutive conference tournament appearances, 10. 

Playing in their sixth five-set match of the year, the Lions lost the first two points but stormed back with a 5-1 run to take a 7-5 lead. They did not trail in the set after that point until the end of the match. 

Maintaining a 13-10 advantage, a service error, and an attacking error by the Lions helped the Eagles tie it at 13. The Lions had another chance to win the match on a service error, but after a bad set, the Eagles had their first match point and kept their season alive on an attacking error by the Lions. 

The official time of Tuesday’s match was 2 hours and 56 minutes.


Willis knocks down a buzzer-beater to beat UTSA, 65-62

SAN ANTONIO – Alphonso Willis banked in a three-pointer from near the logo at the UTSA Convocation Center as the clock expired, giving the Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team a 65-62 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners on Monday night. 

The Roadrunners tied the game at 62-all with four seconds left on a three-pointer by Jordan Ivy-Curvy. Without taking a timeout, Willis (Atlanta, Ga.) immediately sprinted downcourt, launched a shot from 40 feet out, using the glass to record the deciding basket, and stun the 914 fans in attendance. 

That’s A&M-Commerce’s first win over a Division I opponent since 2014, when it beat Texas Tech, 72-69, in overtime. This game was an exhibition game for the Lions and will not count towards their overall record.

The Lions were down 54-50 at the 3:04 minute in the second half. Jairus Roberson (DeSoto) hit a three-pointer and knocked down two free-throws to give the Lions a 55-54 lead. Rodney Brown (Beaumont – West Brook) hit a layup, and San Antonio native Alex Peavy (Smithson Valley) knocked in a free throw to highlight an 8-0 run for the Lions. 

Dhieu Deing brought the Roadrunners within one with a three-pointer with 14 seconds to go. Following a turnover on the Lions’ end, the Roadrunners got the ball back and called a timeout, but they did not have any, and the official charged them with a technical foul. Roberson knocked down both free throws to give the Lions a 62-59 lead. 

Willis led the team with 18 points. He also had two rebounds and five assists. Clashon Gaffney (Clarksville) battled foul trouble but had 11 points, six rebounds, and four key blocks.  

The Lions battled foul trouble to start the game as Roberson had three fouls in the first half, while Gaffney and Demarcus Demonia (Fort Washington, Md.) had two each. 

Gaffney, playing his first game as a Lion after transferring in from Tarleton, had eight points in the first half on perfect 4-for-4 shooting and made his presence felt on the defensive side with three blocks in the first half. 

A&M-Commerce led for nine minutes in the first half but trailed 31-29 at the half. Willis, a transfer from Young Harris College, knocked down four of his six free throws for six points in the first half. 

The Lions had 12 personal fouls in the first half, resulting in 12 free-throw attempts for the Roadrunners, but they hit only four of them in the first half. 

Both teams combined with having 38 three-point attempts in the game but only knocked down eight. 

At the midpoint of the first half, the Lions held the Roadrunners without a made field goal for over five minutes but could not trim the deficit, going on a 2 minute 38-second scoring drought themselves.


The Lions begin the regular season at home against Fort Valley State on Saturday at 1:00 pm. 

Single-game, as well as season tickets, are available at

Defense holds strong in the second half of Lion Football’s 30-10 win on Senior Day.

COMMERCE – In the friendly confines of Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium, the Texas A&M University-Commerce football team ended its season with a 30-10 win over Eastern New Mexico on Saturday evening as part of Senior Day. 

The Lions end their final season in NCAA Division II with a record of 7-4. A charter member of the Lone Star Conference, the Lions finished with a 5-2, finishing tied for second in their final season in the conference. 

In 549 LSC games, the Lions posted a record of 323-214-12 and won 23 LSC titles in program history. 


Twenty-one seniors, including 11 of the 2017 National Championship, were honored before the game. The class, as a whole, finishes their careers with 42 wins, which are the third most among any senior class in program history. All four top seniors have come in the last four years. 

The honorees were Devin BeamonCaleb ColumbaChance CooperElijah EarlsD’Angelo EllisDominion EzinwaShane GossonCarandal HaleChristian HernandezJaylon HodgeKader KohouAntonio Leali’ie’eWyatt LeathDontay MayfieldDominique RamseyAlex ShillowAmon SimonAustin SmithJake ViquezCedrick Wilcox III, and Brenden Young. 

For the third straight game, there was no score through the first quarter. The Lions’ first points of the day came in the second quarter on a 73-yard fumble recovered for a touchdown by Wilcox III (Port St. Lucie, Fla.). Wilcox III led the team with ten tackles. Fellow seniors, Shillow (Pflugerville), Ezinwa (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), and Elijah Earls (San Antonio – Stevens) had eight, six, and six, respectively. 

The Greyhounds cut into the Lions’ lead with a 25-yard field goal by Cooper Hamilton. The Lions answered with a 30-yard field goal on the other end by Viquez (Rockwall) to push the lead back to seven. Viquez missed both of his kicks into the wind. He knocked down the one with the wind on his back in the second quarter. 

J.T. Smith (Klein Oak) caught a 53-yard pass from Eric Rodriguez (Missouri City – Fort Bend Travis) and sprinted into the end zone for the touchdown. Rodriguez threw for 165 yards and a touchdown on 7 for 14 passing. He also had an interception. His longest throw of the game came to Andrew Armstrong (Dallas – Bishop Dunne) for a 60-yard connection. 

Playing as defensive backs throughout their five seasons, Ramsey (Converse – Judson) and Kohou (Euless – Trinity) lined up receivers on Saturday, and both caught a pass. Kohou’s catch was for 40 yards, and Ramsey’s was for 11. Ramsey also had a carry for three yards and threw a 44-yard pass to Matt Childers (Henderson). 

Rodriguez started the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown rush. He had 29 yards on six rushing attempts. Leali’ie’e (Copperas Cove) led the team with 44 rushing yards. Smith added another touchdown in the third quarter, this time, a seven-yard run to make it 30-3. Smith had 26 yards on the ground. 

Eastern New Mexico shut out A&M-Commerce in the fourth quarter and scored its only touchdown at the 9:38 mark, a three-yard rush by quarterback Nathan Valencia. 

The Lion defense allowed 189 yards of total offense in the first half but locked down and allowed only 54 yards in the second half. They had two sacks in the game, first was a solo sack by Darius Williams (Fort Worth – Arlington Heights) and a combined sack by Justice Williams (Detroit, Mich.) and Hodge (Houston – Fort Bend Travis). 

Daryion Taylor (Humble – Atascocita) had a fumble recovery, and Kohou had two pass breakups. 

The full 2022 schedule for the Lions, who will play in the Southland Conference of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, will be released in the coming months.

The No. 10 Lion Women’s Basketball downs Colorado Christian, 83-74

LAKEWOOD, COLO. – Holding a lead for 32 of the 40 minutes, the No. 10 ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team starts off its season with a perfect 2-0 record in the tournament hosted by Colorado Christian at the CCU Events Center, beating the Cougars, 83-74, on Saturday afternoon. 

A&M-Commerce beat Colorado State-Pueblo and Colorado Christian to start the season. The Lions shot 50 percent from the field in the first quarter on Saturday and hit a trio of three-pointers. The Lions shot 47.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc in the game. The Cougars shot 43.3 percent from the field. 

“We did not come out ready to play today but once again, showed some resilience and found a way to win,” said coach Jason Burton. “We are going to get everyone’s best shot, so we have to be ready to play every game.” 

“We picked up two big wins in Colorado this weekend over RMAC teams that will have big postseason implications for us if we continue to take care of business.” 

The Cougars started in the front and led by four at the 3:37 mark of the first quarter, 16-12. A three-pointer by Ravae Payne (Pearland), another by Dyani Robinson (Langham Creek), and a shot from deep from DesiRay Kernal (Newton, Kan.) gave the Lions their first lead of the game on the 9-0 run. 

The Lions ended the first quarter on an 11-4 run and took a 25-20 lead to end the quarter on a jumper by Laila Lawrence (Lewisville). 

Symmone James (McKinney – Boyd) played three minutes and 36 seconds off the bench in the first quarter but shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the field for eight points. James finished with 19 points, a career-high. She had six rebounds, and Lawrence had six rebounds and 12 points. 

“One major strength for us is our bench. Laila (Lawrence) and Symmone (James) showed up in a major way for us today, scoring and rebounding. We had a great defensive play off the bench from Mia Deck and Asiyha Smith,” added Burton. 

Robinson led the team with 20 points and three steals. Kernal had 13 points and seven rebounds. Chania Wright (DeSoto) had five points and team-leading four assists. Payne had seven points and five rebounds; Wright also had five. 

“Dyani continues to show why she is one of the best players in the country. She made timely buckets for us and was really good defensively down the stretch,” concluded Burton. 

Colorado Christian outscored the Lions, 17-15 in the second quarter, but trailed 40-37 at the half. 

The Lions shot 19 for 36 from the field in the second half. Both teams scored 19 points in the third, but the Lions outscored the Cougars 24-18 in the fourth quarter. 

A&M-Commerce took a 79-64 lead in the fourth quarter, starting on a 20-6 run. The Lions did not trail in the last 18 minutes and 50 seconds of the game. Jordyn Brown led the Cougars with 21 points off the bench. 


The Lions remain on the road to face Ouachita Baptist on Friday at 5:30 pm. A&M-Commerce’s first home games are during Thanksgiving weekend.

Lion Volleyball sweeps WNMU, set to host the first round of the LSC Championship.

SILVER CITY, N.M. – In the regular-season finale, the Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team swept the Western New Mexico Mustangs, 3-0, at Drag’s Court on Saturday afternoon. The Lions finish the season in fifth place in the Lone Star Conference standings. 

A&M-Commerce won 12 of its last 14 conference matches. They finished the season with an LSC record of 12-5 and an overall 14-9. The Lions secure the No. 5 seed in the LSC Championship and host the first round against Oklahoma Christian on Tuesday at 6:00 pm. 

“We can play quite a few teams in the next week,” said coach Craig Case. “The one thing they all have in common is that they all created substantial mismatches that hurt us. No matter who we play, we’ve got a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it.” 

The Mustangs started the match with a lead in the first set, 20-15. The Lions won three straight points to force a WNMU timeout. A kill by Taryn Cast (Peaster), a block by Sydney Andersen (Placentia, Calif.), and an attacking error by the Mustangs. 

Western New Mexico had three chances to win the game, but the Lions fought them off. The Lions trailed 23-22 in the first but won two straight points on kills by Maiya Dickie (Huntsville) and Andersen to have a chance to win the set at 24-23, but an error tied the set. The Lions had another chance to win the set at 25-24 but also lost that point. 

A block by Andersen gave the Lions a 29-28 lead, but the Mustangs tied it again. Finally, a kill by Maddy Rashford (Placentia, Calif.) gave the Lions a chance to win the set at 30-29, and they closed it out on a ball-handling error. 

“WNMU played at a really high level in the first set,” said Case. They were a step faster and an inch higher than us in pretty much every aspect of the game. However, at about the midway point, we started getting things going on our side of the net, and things started clicking.”

“I was really pleased with how focused and competitive we were in the first set in what was clearly a playoff-like set and environment.” 

Dickie had six kills in the set, Rashford had five. Riley Davidson (Commerce) had nine digs in the first set, Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) led the way with 15 assists. 

Rashford had 16 kills in the match, Vela had 36 assists, Lyric Hebert (Arvada, Colo.) recorded 11 digs, and Andersen had four blocks. 

The Lions outhit the Mustangs, .370 to .155 in the match. A&M-Commerce did not trail in the second set and closed out the set, 25-20, on an ace by Davidson. The largest lead in the game for A&M-Commerce was six. 

A kill by Vela gave the Lions a 24-13 lead in the third set, its largest lead of the match. The Lions did not trail in the third set either and won the game, 25-14, on a kill by Destiny Greenwood (Fairfield, Calif.).

Lion Soccer bows out of LSC Championship, ending the DII era.

DALLAS – Two second-half goals by the No. 6 seeded Angelo State Rambelles ended the Texas A&M University-Commerce soccer team’s run in the Lone Star Conference Championship with a 2-0 loss. It happened Friday night on DBU’s Patriot Soccer Field. The loss marked the end of the Lions’ time in NCAA Division II. 

In their last season before jumping up to the Southland Conference in NCAA Division I, the Lions finish with a record of 10-8-2 and finish seventh in the LSC with a history of 7-5-1, but upset the No. 2 seed Midwestern State in the LSC Championship and made it to the semifinals. 

On Friday night, the Lions outshot the Rambelles 8-4 in the first half but could not get a goal on the board. The Rambelles were far more aggressive in the second half, outshooting the Lions 13-4 and scoring both of their goals after halftime. 

The first goal from Angelo State came in the 67th minute off the foot of Mariah Griffin, and Maddi Kyle assisted. After the Lions blocked Kyle’s attempt, Griffin took a shot and sailed it past the Lions’ Jen Peters (Allen), who made six saves in the match. 

Karalie Morrison (North Richland Hills – Colleyville Heritage), who was named the LSC Freshman of the Year on Thursday, led the team with five shots, but none were on goal. Melissa Storey (Tyne and Wear, England) had three, also none on goal. The lone shot on goal came from Hailey Griffin (Trophy Club – Byron Nelson), which ASU’s Kira Miller saved. 

The Rambelles doubled their lead in the 80th minute on Gabby Villagrand’s goal, assisted by Griffin. 

Friday marked the final collegiate match for seniors Kara Blasingame (Oswego, Ill.), Leslie Campuzano (Garland – Lakeview Centennial), Rylie Robertson (Rockwall), Skylar Sorrell (Monroe, La.), and Cora Welch (Plano).

Campuzano and Welch were named all-Lone Star Conference earlier this week, while Blasingame received the all-LSC Academic team honor and CoSIDA Academic All-District. Sorrell transferred into A&M-Commerce before the 2019 season and made significant contributions to the midfield, especially with her signature long throw-ins. Robertson was a staple in the Lions’ back four throughout her five seasons in Commerce.

Lion Women’s Basketball goes on a 29-4 run to win over the Thunderwolves.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – Trailing 44-38 with three minutes left in the third quarter, the Texas A&M University-Commerce women’s basketball team went on a 29-4 run over ten minutes against Colorado State-Pueblo. On Friday afternoon, they won 74-68 over the Thunderwolves in the season-opening game at the CCU Event Center.

“That was a great win against a great team! Alisha Davis is a beast for them and demands so much attention, but in the second half, we adjusted and did a better job containing her,” said Coach Jason Burton

“I’m proud of how our team handled the adversities we faced today. We responded well to those. Being down on the road is always tough, but mix in the altitude, and it gets really tough. It took our entire team to come in and play well for us to win. They trusted each other, they trusted the game plan, and they never stopped playing hard. We need to clean up the mental mistakes we made down the stretch and our turnovers, but I love this team we have. It’s only up from here.” 

“Now the challenge of a quick turnaround. We face a team with a new coach and new players, and all the prep has to be done in the hotel in less than 24 hours. They will be well-coached and have the luxury of playing at home. We have to find a way to bring back two wins to Texas,” concluded Burton.  

The Lions jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter, highlighted by a steal by Laila Lawrence (Lewisville), who passed to Dyani Robinson (Langham Creek), who hit a fastbreak layup. The Thunderwolves went on a 13-0 run in four minutes to take a 15-8 lead. 

Robinson led the team with 27 points, two shy of her career-high, and knocked down 11 of her 13 free-throw attempts. The Lions shot 37.1 percent from the field and 88 percent from the charity stripe in the game. 

CSU-Pueblo ended the first quarter on a 19-8 run to lead 21-16 after the first 10 minutes. 

DesiRay Kernal (Newton, Kan.) scored the first four points of the second quarter to pull the Lions to within 21-20 and forced the Thunderwolves to use their first timeout. Asiyha Smith (Conway, Ark.) helped the Lions take the lead by going on a personal 5-0 run. 

Kernal had 15 points on 4-for-8 shooting and 7-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line. She led the team with eight rebounds. Robinson had six, Juliana Louis (Long Beach, Calif.) had five rebounds. 

The Lions outscored the Thunderwolves, 17-14, to trail 35-33 at the half in the second quarter. 

A&M-Commerce went on a 29-9 run in 11 minutes in the second half to take a 67-51 lead. They shot 9-for-13 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line and held CSU-Pueblo to shoot 3-for-15 from the field. Robinson had 14 of the 29 points. 

Despite trailing, the Thunderwolves bounced back with a 15-4 run in the fourth quarter to pull to 71-66. The Lions had only three field-goal attempts in the stretch, while the Thunderwolves shot 5-for-7 from the field. 

After a timeout by the Lions, the Thunderwolves stole the inbound pass and had a clear look at a three-pointer that bounced off the rim. Tomia Johnson knocked down two free throws to cut it to 72-68. Robinson knocked down both free throws on the other end to seal the game. 

Chania Wright (DeSoto) had nine points in the game and three rebounds. Ravae Payne (Pearland) had eight points on 3-for-4 shooting, including 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. Kernal and Louis had three assists each. Five different Lions had a steal each. 


The Lions remain in Lakewood to face the hosts, Colorado Christian, on Saturday at 1:30 pm mountain standard time.