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March 8, 2014

Strong second half pushes Texans past Lions in LSC tournament

ALLEN — The A&M-Commerce Lions led top-seeded Tarleton State 40-37 at the half, but shot just 31.8 percent in the second half and could not overcome the Texans’ backcourt duo of De’Andre Upchurch and Chuck Guy in a 84-72 loss in the semifinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament on Friday at the Allen Event Center.

The Lions (19-9) will now await their postseason fate, to be announced on the NCAA selection show on Sunday night on NCAA.com. A&M-Commerce entered the week ranked No. 7 in the South Central region.

Kameron Price and LaDon Carnegie finished with 14 points apiece for the Lions, but Carnegie was limited to just nine minutes in the second half due to foul trouble. The Lions still held the lead early in the second half, but went more than eight minutes without a field goal, allowing the Texans to build as much as a 13-point lead.

“Shots just did not fall for us tonight in the second half,” A&M-Commerce head coach Sam Walker said after the game. “Our energy was great, and I am proud of the guys for that. Some nights shots don’t fall, and the second half was that for us.”

Upchurch led all scorers in the game with 25 points for the Texans, while LSC Player of the Year Chuck Guy finished with 19 points and nine assists.

The Lions finished with a 36-26 advantage on the glass, and held the Texans to just four offensive boards on the night, leading to a 14-2 edge in second-chance points. Devondrick Walker pulled in a team-high seven rebounds for A&M-Commerce, all in the first half, to go along with nine points and four assists.

Tyrie Wooten was the only other Lion in double figures, finishing with 12 points.

Carnegie pumped in a dozen of his 14 points on the night in the first half, draining a pair of threes and helping the Lions to a 40-37 lead at the break. The Lions trailed for the bulk of the opening period before taking the lead for the first time on a pair of free throws from Devondrick Walker.

But the Texans got 12 points of their own from Upchurch, including a pair of threes, to keep the Lions from putting them away, despite being outrebounded 22-10 and outscored 10-0 in second-chance points.

Tarleton managed to come out in the second half and take the lead early on a pair of free throws from Tashawn Mabry less than five minutes into the period. The teams traded blows for the next three minutes before De’Andre Carson’s second three of the game pulled A&M-Commerce to within 57-56 with exactly 12:00 to play in the game.

But from there the Lions went cold from the floor, not getting another field goal until a breakaway layup from Price with 3:39 to play, a lull that aided an 18-5 run that gave them plenty of distance to coast to the finish line.

The NCAA regional selection show is set for Sunday, March 9 at 9:30 p.m. CT.

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