Drury 79, A&M-Commerce 73
Location: The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (2-6); Drury (6-3)
Up Next: vs. Southern Arkansas • Tuesday, Dec. 13 • 7 p.m. • The Field House
COMMERCE, Texas -- The first time A&M-Commerce and Drury met this season in Springfield, Mo., the Lions build a double-digit first half lead, only to see the Panthers come roaring back in the second half to claim the victory. Saturday was a case of deja vu for both teams as A&M-Commerce held a commanding 18-point advantage in the first half, only to fall to Drury 79-73. The Lions' skid has now hit four games as they drop to 2-6 on the year.
Preston Whitley led the Lions off the bench, knocking down a season-high 19 points with a team-best eight rebounds for A&M-Commerce. Desmond King and Brad Hambrick each finished with 14 points for the Lions, with King adding five boards, while Devondrick Walker had a dream night in Vegas, finishing with seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
LaBree Sledge posted eight points and five assists on the afternoon as A&M-Commerce shot 44.4 percent from the floor, compared to 52 percent for Drury. But the Lions struggled both from the three-point arc (28.6 percent) and free throw line (57.6 percent), opening the door for the Panther comeback victory.
Early in the game, the Lions were finding success using a high-tempo offense, holding a 17-6 lead with just over five minutes gone in the game. After Drury cut the deficit to seven at 21-14 with 12 minutes remaining in the half, A&M-Commerce found its groove, outscoring the Panthers 19-8, building its 18-point cushion at 40-22 with just over five minutes remaining in the half.
The Panthers would score the next eight points, cutting the deficit to 10 at 40-30, which would prove to be the halftime margin as A&M-Commerce went to the locker room on top 46-36. The Lions shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening stanza and dominated the Panthers in the lane, recording 22 points compared to just eight for Drury.
A&M-Commerce and Drury exchanged baskets through the opening seven minutes of the second half as the Lions maintained their 10-point cushion at 57-47 with 13:40 remaining in the game. But as it did in the first meeting on Nov. 19, Drury began its second half charge, using a 17-3 run over the next five minutes to take a 64-60 lead.
The Lions fought back, as a three-pointer from Hambrick put A&M-Commerce back on top 66-64, but the Panthers responded with a jumper to tie the game at 66-66, swinging momentum back in Drury's favor. The Panthers would hit the key shots down the stretch, while the Lions were unable to convert when it matters as Drury used a late 12-5 stretch to put the game away, taking the 79-73 decision at the Field House.
Brandon Lockhart led the Panthers with a career-high 25 points, including hitting four of five three-point attemtps, and six assists while Alex Hall finished with 18 points and five rebounds for Drury. Justin Jones added 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds as Drury has now won the last three against A&M-Commerce and leads the all-time series 6-4.
The Lions look to end its skid with its final home game at the Field House in the 2011 calendar year this Tuesday, December 13, hosting Southern Arkansas. The Lions defeated the Muleriders 60-57 in the season opener on Nov. 17 and has won seven-straight heading into Tuesday's contest. Opening tip from the Field House is set for 7 p.m.