A&M-Commerce 67, Eastern New Mexico 62 (OT)
Location: Greyhound Arena · Portales, N.M.
Records: A&M-Commerce (8-16, 3-13 LSC); Eastern New Mexico (13-12, 6-10 LSC)
Up Next: at Abilene Christian · Wednesday, February 22 · 7:30 p.m.
PORTALES, N.M. – Trailing by four with less than a minute to play, A&M-Commerce rallied back to force overtime at Greyhound Arena, then wore down the host Greyhounds in the extra stanza to claim a much-needed 67-62 victory. The Lions snap a four-game losing skid while keeping their Lone Star Conference Championship postseason hopes alive in the process.
Devondrick Walker and Desmond King led the way for the Lions offensively as the duo each recorded 15 points in the victory with King leading A&M-Commerce with a team-high eight rebounds and Walker proving to be clutch down the stretch, hitting four his five three-point shots. Brad Hambrick also finished in double figures for the Lions, recording 10 points, three assists and a pair of rebounds.
Andrew Davis and Preston Whitley each finished with eight points on the night, including Whitley's jumper with nine seconds remaining that sent the game into overtime. He also pulled down five rebounds for the Lions. Esteban Arriola had another solid performance in his second-straight start, posting five points, five rebounds and six assists with just one turnover. Quince Jackson added six points, including five in overtime, and four rebounds while Mouhamadou N'doye had a pair of blocks as well.
Knowing its postseason hopes were on the line, A&M-Commerce established itself early on the road, using a 13-0 run midway through the opening half to break the game open and take a 27-15 lead on Eastern New Mexico. The Lions were able to keep the Greyhounds at bay down the stretch for the remainder of the half before taking a 33-27 lead into halftime.
Arriola got the second half off to a positive start for A&M-Commerce, nailing a three to extend the Lions' lead back to nine at 36-27. But fueled on by their home crowd, Eastern New Mexico built some momentum of its own, outscoring A&M-Commerce 11-2 over a five minute stretch to reclaim its first lead since early in the first half at 41-38.
Eastern New Mexico extended the lead to five at 45-40 with 11:47 remaining before an 8-0 run by the Lions gave A&M-Commerce the lead once again at 48-45 midway through the second half. Both the Lions and Greyhounds exchanged baskets down the stretch before Eastern New Mexico established a 58-54 advantage heading into the final minute of play.
A pair of free throws from Arriola cut the gap to two at 58-56 with 58 seconds left, giving the ball back to the Greyhounds. But an Eastern New Mexico turnover gave possession back to the Lions with 30 seconds remaining. A&M-Commerce worked the ball around before Whitley drained a clutch shot with nine seconds remaining, tying the game at 58-58. The Greyhounds' put up a potential game-winning shot as time expired, but the shot was off target, sending the game into overtime.
A&M-Commerce had played a pair of overtime games already this season and had come up on the short end on both occasions, but faced a different outcome against the Greyhounds. A clutch three-pointer by Jackson put the Lions on top 62-60 before Eastern New Mexico tied the game at 62 with 2:56 remaining. But that was the last time the Greyhounds would score in the game as a jumper and a free throw by King and a pair of free throws from Jackson sealed the 67-62 victory for A&M-Commerce.
The Lions held a significant advantage in every shooting category, hitting 42.6 percent from the floor compared to 37.1 percent for the Greyhounds. A&M-Commerce was 8-of-18 from three-point range (44.4 percent), compared to just 6-of-26 for Eastern New Mexico (23.1 percent), but the major difference came from the free throw line where the Lions hit 76.5 percent (13-of-17) with the Greyhounds shooting just 41.7 percent (10-of-24).
Four Greyhounds finished in double figures, led by a double-double from Curtis Wilkerson who led Eastern New Mexico with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Greg McFarland had 12 points and eight rebounds while Devone Davis and Tralyn Harden each notched 10 points for the Greyhounds. Davis led Eastern New Mexico with five assists with nine rebounds, but also had seven turnovers in the game.
The Lions swept the season series as their victory over Eastern New Mexico was the 10 th-straight for A&M-Commerce and the win couldn't have come at a better time. A&M-Commerce now sits at 3-13, a half game back of both Angelo State and Abilene Christian for eighth-place in the Lone Star Conference standings.
The quest for Allen enters its final week with the Lions taking dead aim on the top teams they need to overtake to qualify for the postseason. The quest resumes Wednesday at Abilene Christian when the Lions and Wildcats do battle at 7:30 p.m. A&M-Commerce then welcomes Angelo State to the Field House on Saturday, February 25, in the 2011-12 regular season finale. Opening tip against the Rams is set for 8 p.m.