The Commerce Journal
Hampton Inn Court has traditionally not been kind to Texas A&M University-Commerce and Saturday afternoon was no different as the Lions trailed by nine at the half and their second half rally came up short as A&M-Commerce drops a 75-69 decision to A&M-Kingsville. The loss drops the Lions to 9-5 on the year and 2-2 in Lone Star Conference play as head coach Sam Walker remains tied with Jim Gudger with 201 career victories.
Preston Whitley led the way for A&M-Commerce, finishing with 21 points and six rebounds, complemented by 12 points from Stefon Carson. Donavon Gage had one of his best outings in a Lion uniform, finishing with nine points while Jason Smith added eight points, six rebounds and five assists in defeat.
Kingsville has been a place A&M-Commerce has not enjoyed playing in recent years as the Lions came into the game just 1-8 at Hampton Inn Court under coach Walker. The struggles in South Texas started to rear its head late in the first half once again as with the Lions holding on to a slim 18-17 lead, A&M-Kingsville found its touch, outscoring the Lions 20-10 over the final four and a half minutes to take a commanding 37-28 lead into halftime.
A&M-Commerce was looking to establish momentum early in the second half, but a steal on the first possession of the half gave way to a Javelina lay-up, giving A&M-Kingsville its largest lead of the game at 39-28. But the Lions seemed to settle into their style of play following, using a 9-0 run to pull to within two at 39-37 with just under four minutes gone in the half.
The Lions continued to battle the Javelinas possession for possession, finally pulling ahead for the first time since the opening half off a lay-up and free throw from Gage, taking the 59-57 lead with 7:13 remaining. That advantage would extend to three at 61-58 following a pair of free throws from Whitley as the Lions seemed on the verge of making a second half run.
But it was the Javelinas that took advantage on its home court, reclaiming the lead at 64-61 and never looking back. The Lions would pull even with the Javelinas three more times but were never able to reclaim the lead as A&M-Kingsville closed out the game with a 5-0 run over the two minutes, sealing its third-straight victory over A&M-Commerce.
On paper, stats were even for both the Lions and Javelinas as A&M-Commerce shot 43.1 percent from the floor, compared to 46.6 percent for A&M-Kingsville. Both teams shot 33.3 percent from three-point range with the Lions holding a slim advantage at the free throw line, hitting 83.3 percent of its attempts compared to 72.7 percent for the Javelinas.
Rashad Bailey led the way for A&M-Kingsville, finishing with 16 points while Jamahl Brown posted 12 points. Adonis Bailey added 10 points while Daymon Warren just missed a double-double for A&M-Kingsville, posting nine points and 10 rebounds.