KING'S CAREER DAY LEADS LIONS TO 85-81 VICTORY OVER REDDIES
A&M-Commerce 85, Henderson State 81
Location: St. Edward's University • Austin, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (5-6); Henderson State (4-5)
Up Next: at West Texas A&M • Wednesday, January 4 • 8 p.m. • Canyon, Texas
AUSTIN, Texas – Paced by a career day by senior Desmond King, which included personal-bests in points (30), rebounds (12) and blocks (two), A&M-Commerce held off Henderson State 85-81 at St. Edward's University for its third-straight win.
"It was a pair of big win for our guys and was much deserved," said head coach Sam Walker. "We had come up short on a handful of games already this year, and to come down here and get a pair of wins against two good teams is great for these guys. We've still got some things we need to work on, but hopefully this will give our guys some confidence heading into the break before we begin the bulk of our conference schedule."
King provided fits for the Reddies all afternoon, hitting a staggering 12-of-13 shots from the floor, while pulling down 12 rebounds, tying a career-high, including six offensive rebounds. It was King's second double-double of the season and the fourth of his Lion career.
For his efforts, King was named the St. Edward's Classic Most Valuable Player. He was joined on the All-Tournament team by teammate LaBree Sledge.
LaBree Sledge also finished in double figures for the Lions, knocking down 12 points with five assists and three rebounds. Devondrick Walker and Andrew Davis each finished with five rebounds while King also led A&M-Commerce with a pair of blocks, tying another career-high.
King set the tone early for A&M-Commerce, knocking down the first six points of the afternoon as the Lions roared out to an early 8-0 lead on Henderson State. The Lions would extend that advantage to 18-7 off a layup from King with 12:10 remaining in the opening half.
The Reddies clawed back to within four at 20-16, only to see A&M-Commerce record five-straight, extending the lead back to nine at 25-16 with 5:02 remaining in the opening stanza. A&M-Commerce would keep Henderson State at bay down the stretch, taking a 35-25 advantage into the halftime break.
Henderson State would make a move early in the second half, using an extended run to pull to within two at 43-41 with four minutes burned off the clock. The teams would exchange baskets until the Reddies staged another extended run, eventually taking their first lead of the game at 55-53 with 9:30 remaining in the game.
A&M-Commerce regained the lead at 57-55, then build a somewhat comfortable nine-point cushion at 82-73 with just under a minute remaining. But Henderson State made it interesting, using an 8-1 run over the ensuing 40 seconds to pull to within two at 83-81 with 10 seconds to play. But a pair of crucial free throws by Hambrick secured the Lions' third consecutive victory.
For the second-straight game, A&M-Commerce was extremely efficient from the floor, hitting 62 percent of its shots from the floor (31-of-50). But again, it was the Lions' hot hand in the second half that made the difference as A&M-Commerce shot 72 percent in the second (18-of-25). Both teams struggled from the free throw line as the Lions were just 18-of-27 (66.7 percent) while Henderson State made just eight of its 17 attempts (47.1 percent).
Andrew Ensley led the Reddies with 29 points and nine rebounds with Denzel Lyles adding 14 points and Lester Johnson finishing with 12. Matt Nicholson grabbed seven rebounds for HSU while Johnson and Jonathan Fitzgerald each had four assists.
With the victory, the Lions now head into an extended Christmas break as A&M-Commerce has played its final game until after the new year. A&M-Commerce returns to the court heading into the bulk of its Lone Star Conference slate, heading to Canyon for a showdown with West Texas on Wednesday, January 4. The Lions then return to the Field House, facing Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, January 7.