The Commerce Journal

December 29, 2012

A&M-Commerce men fall to Ouachita in overtime

The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — Texas A&M University-Commerce and Ouachita Baptist battled for 40 minutes, combining for 11 ties and 12 lead changes, ultimately resulting in a 69-69 tie at the end of regulation. But the Lions came up short in the overtime period, dropping an 82-76 slugfest to the Tigers at Bill Vining Arena.

The loss snaps a six-game winning streak for A&M-Commerce who shot just 34.4 percent from the floor for the game, including a dismal 23.1 percent in the second half where the Lions hit just two of their first 18 shots. A&M-Commerce also hit just five of its 16 shots from three-point range (31.3 percent) while hitting 75.0 percent of its free throws.

Jason Smith, the reigning Lone Star Conference Co-Offensive Player of the Week, recorded a career-best 22 points, tying the team’s single-game high on the season. Smith hit five of his nine shots from the floor and was 12-of-16 from the free throw line, pulling down six rebounds with three assists and three steals. Preston Whitley added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Lions with Devondrick Walker notching 10 points and four boards.

Andrew Davis continued to pace A&M-Commerce on the glass, pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds while adding nine points, just missing a double-double. Tyrie Wooten finished with eight points and four steals while Craig Fofang led the way with two blocks, complementing his four points.

Coming off its most complete performance of the season at Dallas Baptist on Saturday, A&M-Commerce looked to continue that high-level of play in the early stages against Ouachita Baptist. The Lions raced out to an early six-point lead on a handful of occasions, only to see the Tigers rally back to tie the game with a run of its own – setting a tone for the duration of the game.

Neither team was able to pull ahead by more than two points down the stretch of the opening half until A&M-Commerce went on a 5-0 run, giving the Lions the 39-34 lead in the waning minutes of the first.  But a jumper by the Tigers with one second remaining trimmed the lead to three at 39-36 heading into halftime.

Early in the second, the Lions would build their largest lead of the game at seven points, as a jumper and a pair of free throws by Stefon Carson put A&M-Commerce in front 43-36. But with the Lions on the verge of breaking the game open, Ouachita Baptist responded in a major way, putting together a 15-1 run over the next five minutes to take a seven point lead of its own at 51-44, thanks in large part to the 2-for-18 shooting for A&M-Commerce during the span.

But the Lions continued to chip away at the Ouachita Baptist advantage, reclaiming the lead at 64-62 off a three-pointer by Walker with 4:45 remaining. A&M-Commerce would pull ahead by as many as four at 68-64 and led 68-66 in the waning seconds of regulation when a three-pointer by the Tigers gave the 69-68 lead back to Ouachita Baptist with 13 seconds remaining.

Wooten had a chance to put the Lions back on top, but was only able to hit one of two free throws with five seconds remaining, knotting the game at 69-69. The potential game-winning shot by the Tigers was no good, sending the teams into overtime.

But in the extra stanza, Ouachita Baptist gained control early and never looked back, building a 10-point lead at 82-72 before settling in for the 82-76 victory. The win snaps A&M-Commerce’s three-game winning streak over the Tigers as the Lions are now 10-6 all-time against Ouachita Baptist.

Five Tigers scored in double digits as Ouachita Baptist shot 47.7 percent from the floor. Michael Morris led the way with 17 points while Austin Mitchell added 16 for the Tigers. Nigel Ramsey and Colt Fason each finished with 13 points with Micah Delph notching 11 off the bench.