The Commerce Journal
Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball head coach Sam Walker saw his Lions put together arguably their best performance of the season as the Lions routed Dallas Baptist 92-62 at the Burg Center, giving Walker his 200th career victory on the A&M-Commerce sidelines.
Walker, the second-winningest coach in program history, upped his career record to 200-150 in 13 seasons and now sits just one game back of Jim Gudger as the all-time winningest coach in A&M-Commerce history. Additionally, the Lions won their sixth-straight game, improving to 8-2 on the year and sweeping the season series against Dallas Baptist.
“It isn’t something we’ve been focusing in on, as we know this season is still young and there is a lot of basketball left to play,” Walker said following the milestone victory. “What I’m most happy about is seeing this team put together its best performance of the season on the road against a very talented Dallas Baptist team. But it is meaningful, and there have been many people along the way that have helped get this program to where it is at, and this is much more for them than it is for me.”
The 30-point victory was the largest margin of victory for Walker since A&M-Commerce defeated Southeastern Oklahoma 83-51 in 2011. It also marks the eighth time in his career he has guided the Lions to a 30-plus point victory.
As a team, the Lions shot 47.6 percent from the floor, including hitting 50 percent of its three point shots as 11 different players scored on the afternoon. Preston Whitley led the way with a season-high 22 points for A&M-Commerce, followed by a career-best 18 point performance from Stefon Carson.
Kenny Brown also joined the career-high club, finishing with 13 points and seven rebounds as the Lions held a 44-30 edge in rebounds. Devondrick Walker just missed joining the double-figure club, recording nine points with four rebounds, followed by eight points from Quince Jackson.
The first meeting between the two teams this season was a thriller with the Lions rallying from five points down with a minute left to force overtime, then topping the Patriots 91-87. That competitive play carried over to the second meeting between the two as both A&M-Commerce and Dallas Baptist matched baskets through the opening portion of the first half.
Trailing 16-14, the Lions began to settle into its groove, using an 18-6 run over a five-minute span to build a 32-24 lead with just under five minutes left in the opening stanza. Led by 13 first half points by Whitley, A&M-Commerce kept Dallas Baptist at bay down the stretch, taking a 42-35 lead into the halftime break.
A&M-Commerce then came out and dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half, virtually putting the game out of reach. The Lions outscored the Patriots 27-12 out of the gates from the locker room, including a 10-0 run to build its lead to 22 at 69-47. A&M-Commerce was aided by a handful of early fouls as Dallas Baptist notched 10 team fouls within the first seven minutes, compared to just two for the Lions.
The A&M-Commerce rout continued as the Lions would extend their lead to as many as 32 at 89-57 off a three-pointer from Taylor Phelps, his first career basket, with just over a minute remaining and then counted down the final seconds to the dominating 92-62 victory.
A&M-Commerce held Dallas Baptist to just 35 percent shooting from the floor, including 27.6 percent in the second half, and just 27.6 percent from three-point range. The Patriots, one of the best free throw shooting teams in the nation, hit 80.0 percent of its attempts, but attempted just 15 free throws, compared to 39 for A&M-Commerce, who connected on 26 (66.7 percent).
Nick Fox, who came into the game averaging over 22 points per game, was held to just 11 by the Lions with five rebounds. Jonathan Perry led the way for Dallas Baptist with 17 points, but those were the only Patriots to notch more than seven points on the afternoon.
Walker now sets his sights on becoming the all-time winningest coach in program history as the Lions head to Arkadelphia, Ark., for a showdown with Ouachita Baptist on Tuesday, Dec. 18, tipping at 7 p.m. The Lions then close out the 2012 calendar year in Magnolia, Ark., battling Southern Arkansas at 7 p.m. Dec. 19.