The Commerce Journal

November 23, 2012

Men’s basketball team splits Tarleton Texan Tip-Off Classic

The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — A slow start to the second half did in A&M-Commerce Friday evening as the Lions fell behind by double digits and never recovered, dropping a 71-65 decision to East Central. The Lions drop to 2-2 on the year, falling in the opening game of the 2012 Tarleton Texan Tip-Off Classic in Stephenville.

Four Lions finished in double figures on the afternoon, led by 16 points by Stefon Carson and Jason Smith, who added five rebounds and two assists. Preston Whitley had his best game of the season, notching 12 points with three boards while Tyrie Wooten posted 10 points.

Andrew Davis’ streak of double-doubles ended at three games as he led the Lions with seven rebounds but was held scoreless, taking just two shots on the day. Carson led A&M-Commerce with four steals with Devondrick Walker and Donavon Gage each adding a pair.

Coming off the riveting 91-87 overtime victory over Dallas Baptist Tuesday evening, A&M-Commerce was looking to extend its early season winning streak to three games, squaring off against its old Lone Star Conference North Division rival. Both the Lions and Tigers battled through the opening 20 minutes as the two combined for six ties and four lead changes as East Central notched the final three points to take a 29-26 lead into halftime.

Those final three points seemed to spark East Central in the second half as the Tigers outscored the Lions 11-4 through the opening four minutes, extending their lead to 11 at 41-30. East Central would push that advantage to 13 at 47-34, looking to put the game away early.

But A&M-Commerce wasn’t ready to go down without a fight as the Lions strung together a 10-0 run over the next two minutes, pulling to within three at 47-44 with just under nine minutes to play. But the Lion run was quickly matched with a run by the Tigers, extending that lead back to 13 at 66-53 with 2:22 remaining before holding off A&M-Commerce’s final surge to take the victory.

A&M-Commerce had dominated the series with East Central under head coach Sam Walker, winning nine straight against the Tigers and were 15-1 against East Central before the loss this afternoon.  Henry Pwono led the way with 14 points for the Tigers with Chris Fisher adding 12 points and Chris Lee and Jason Williams each notching 11.

Lions ride early lead to 84-76

victory over UT-Permian Basin

Three Lions finished in double figures as A&M-Commerce (3-2) raced out to a commanding first half lead then held off UT-Permian Basin (0-4) in the second half for an 84-76 victory at Wisdom Gym. A&M-Commerce improves to 3-2 on the year, finishing 1-1 at the Tarleton Texan Tip-Off Classic.

The Lion offensive attack was led by senior Andrew Davis and junior Devondrick Walker, both of which finished with 17 points on the night as A&M-Commerce shot 54.3 percent from the floor. Preston Whitley also had his best outing of the season, recording his first double-double of the year with 14 points and 10 rebounds, complemented by a team-best six assists.

Kenny Brown and Jason Smith each recorded eight points on the night for A&M-Commerce as Brown added six rebounds, five of which were offensive. Tyrie Wooten and Stefon Carson both finished with seven points as well for the Lions as Wooten notched five assists and a pair of steals.

When A&M-Commerce and UT-Permian Basin squared off last Saturday at the St. Edward’s Shootout in Austin, the Lions used an offensive outburst in the first half to take a commanding halftime lead – a blueprint they followed Saturday evening in Stephenville. Leading 23-19, A&M-Commerce used a 10-2 run to establish a 12-point advantage with 9:11 remaining in the first half.

But A&M-Commerce wasn’t done, as with the score 39-29 three minutes later, the Lions strung together a 12-0 run over a three-minute span, breaking the game open with a 51-29 lead late in the half. The Falcons would cut the gap to 15, scoring the final seven points of the opening stanza as A&M-Commerce took a 51-36 lead into halftime.

A&M-Commerce would push its lead back to 19 early in the second half, leading 55-36 off a layup from Brown with 18:16 to play. UT-Permian Basin would put together a charge of its own, using an 11-0 run to pull to within six at 62-56 with 10 minutes to play.

UT-Permian Basin continued to chip away at the A&M-Commerce advantage, getting the game down to a one-possession affair, trailing by three at 76-73 with just under three minutes remaining. But the Lions were able to hit key free throws when it counted, hitting five-of-seven down the stretch, and stepping it up defensively to squeak out the hard-fought 84-76 victory.

A&M-Commerce improves to 2-0 all-time against UT-Permian Basin, outshooting the Falcons from three-point range (50.0 percent to 34.8 percent) and from the free throw line (77.8 percent to 55.6 percent) to outlast the Falcons. The Lions were especially efficient in the first half, hitting 57.1 percent of their shots from the floor, including 71.4 percent from beyond the arc and 87.5 percent from the free throw line.