A&M-Commerce closed out the 2011-12 season with an overall record of 10-17, including a 5-13 mark in the Lone Star Conference. The Lions finished eighth in the LSC, advancing to their seventh-straight conference tournament and led top-seeded Midwestern State by seven at halftime of the quarterfinals before falling to the Mustangs at the Allen Event Center.
A&M-Commerce Advances To Seventh-Straight Conference Tournament
A&M-Commerce's berth to the Lone Star Conference Championships in Allen continued a rich postseason history. The Lions made their 33 rd appearance, the most of any other school in the conference, including making their seventh-straight appearance and eighth in the last nine years under head coach Sam Walker. A&M-Commerce has compiled a 24-30 overall record in the tournament (.444), including three tournament titles (1977, 1978 and 2005).
Lions Peak When It Matters Most
Heading into the final week of the regular season, A&M-Commerce sat in 10 th-place in the Lone Star Conference standings with a 2-13 conference record and faced three must-win games to have a chance to qualify for the postseason. The Lions notched their first road conference win of the year in a 67-62 defeat at Eastern New Mexico, followed by a nailbiting 75-72 win at Abilene Christian. But A&M-Commerce saved the best for last, pounding out to a 21-point second half advantage against Angelo State in the regular season finale, then held off a furious Ram rally to clinch the eight seed with an 83-78 victory at the Field House.
Hambrick Closes Out Lion Career in Style
Senior guard Brad Hambrick closed out his A&M-Commerce career, leaving his mark on the Lion basketball program. Hambrick played in 109 games in a Lion uniform, starting 88 of them, with 1,206 points (11.1 average), 280 rebounds, 236 assists and 126 steals. He is the Lions' all-time three-point leader, hitting 227 out of 582 attempts as his 39.0 three-point percentage ranks second all-time in program history. A two-time All-Lone Star Conference second team selection, Hambrick notched a handful of career milestones in 2011-12, hitting his 200th career three-pointer at West Texas A&M (Jan. 4) and his 1,000 th career point against Eastern New Mexico (Jan. 7). Hambrick also ranked among the Lone Star Conference leaders, sitting 11th in points per game, 15th in assists per game, fifth in free throw percentage (80.0), second in three-point percentage (40.5) and three-pointers made per game (2.2) and first in minutes played per game (34.3).
King Nabs Lone Star Conference, Academic All-America Honors
Senior forward Desmond King entered the 2011-12 season with high expectations, being named the Lone Star Conference's 2011-12 Preseason Player of the Year. Injuries hampered his collegiate career, but King still made his presence felt, ranking among the conference's leaders in points (fourth – 14.8), rebounds (ninth – 5.9), field goal percentage (sixth – 52.3) and offensive rebounds (fourth – 2.7). King posted three double-doubles on the year, including a 30-point, 12-rebound performance against Henderson State which earned him both the St. Edward's Invitational MVP and LSC Offensive Player of the Week nod. He recorded a career-best 34 points against Abilene Christian and was named a Lone Star Conference honorable mention selection. King also was recognized for his performance in the classroom, being named a first team Capital One Academic All-American as well as being named to the Lone Star Conference All-Academic Team.
Sledge Closes Out A&M-Commerce Senior Trio
Senior LaBree Sledge became the Lions' starting point guard in 2011-12 and made an impact for A&M-Commerce, playing in 22 games and averaging 30.5 minutes, 6.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. Sledge ranked second in the LSC in assists per game, sixth in three-point field goal percentage (37.5) and fifth in assists per game, including a career-best 10 assists against both Southern Arkansas and Eastern New Mexico. Sledge's highlight of the year came against the Muleriders, hitting the game-winning lay-up with 0.6 seconds remaining to give A&M-Commerce the 76-74 victory. Unfotunately, Sledge's basketball career came to an abrupt end when he suffered a season-ending leg injury off a steal against Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Davis Records Career Season for A&M-Commerce
Junior Andrew Davis logged his best season in an A&M-Commerce uniform in 2011-12, setting personal bests in nearly every statistical category. Davis, who finished the year averaging 21.0 minutes, 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds, recorded a pair of double-doubles, including a 12-point, 10-rebound performance against Texas A&M-Kingsville. Davis continued to solidify his status as one of the top performers in the classroom as well, being named the Lone Star Conference's Academic Player of the Year for men's basketball as well as being named a third team Capital One Academic All-American.
Whitley Proves to be Strong Force Off Bench
Junior Preston Whitley continued to emerge as a solid contributor off the bench for A&M-Commerce, appearing in 26 games on the year and averaging 21.0 minutes, 11.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists for the Lions. Whitley finished in double figures in 15 games on the season, including a 16-point, 11-rebound performance at Texas A&M-Kingsville and a season-high 21 points against Eastern New Mexico.
Walker Makes Impact in A&M-Commerce Debut
Sophomore Devondrick Walker proved to be a key addition to the Lion roster in 2011-12, seeing action in 27 games with 21 starts while averaging 28.1 minutes, 8.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Walker reached double figures in 11 contests, including a career-best 24 points in the regular season finale against Angelo State, which helped propel him to LSC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He also tallied 19 points against Incarnate Word off the heels of a 17-point performance against both Cameron and Abilene Christian.
N'doye Sets Up Shot in Paint for A&M-Commerce
Junior Mouhamadou N'doye made a big impact in his Lion debut as the 7-0 center led the Lone Star Conference in both total blocks (38) and blocks per game (1.6). N'doye notched a career-high five blocks against Incarnate Word while recording four blocks on three other occasions. N'doye averaged 10.3 minutes per game on the year, finishing with 49 points and 53 rebounds for the Lions.
A&M-Commerce Notches Unique Academic Honor
It was a banner year in the clasroom for A&M-Commerce this season as both Desmond King and Andrew Davis were named Capital One Academic All-Americans, with King garnering first team honors and Davis being named to the third team. The accomplishment is impressive as A&M-Commerce became the only men's team in the country at any level (Division I, II or III) to have two players named Academic All-Americans. Both were also named to the Lone Star Conference All-Academic Team, with Davis being recognized as the conference's Academic Player of the Year.
Walker Closing In On Pair of Coaching Milestones
Head coach Sam Walker closed out his 12 th season as head coach of A&M-Commerce, and 20 th overall with the program, and sits on the verge of a pair of coaching milestones. Heading into the 2012-13 season, Walker boasts a career record of 192-148 and sits just eight victories shy of reaching 200 career coaching victories. He also ranks second all-time among Lion coaches, sitting 10 victories shy of overtaking Jim Gudger (1969-83) as the winningest coach in program history. Walker also boasts a .565 winning percentage, which is the fifth-highest among the Lions' 20 head coaches.
2011-12 Key Lion Victories
• A&M-Commerce 78, Arkansas-Fort Smith 77 (Nov. 26, 2011): Trailing by four with less than a minute to play, Desmond King hit a jumper to cut the gap to two, followed by the eventual game-winning three-pointer by Brad Hambrick with 29 seconds remaining as A&M-Commerce rallies past Arkansas-Fort Smith 78-77 in the final game of the Patriot Thanksgiving Classic at the Burg Center.
• A&M-Commerce 76, Southern Arkansas 74 (Dec. 13, 2011): LaBree Sledge capped a furious A&M-Commerce comeback, hitting a layup with 0.6 second remaining on the clock as the Lions rally to defeat Southern Arkansas 76-74 at the Field House.
• A&M-Commerce 85, Henderson State 81 (Dec. 19, 2011): Desmond King notched a double-double, recording 30 points and 12 rebounds as the Lions capture the 2011 St. Edward's Invitational title and King takes home tournament MVP honors.
• A&M-Commerce 88, Eastern New Mexico 77 (Jan. 7, 2012): Desmond King and Preston Whitley each scored 21 points and Brad Hambrick knocked down his 200 th career three-pointer as A&M-Commerce knocked off Eastern New Mexico 88-77 at the Field House for its first LSC victory of the year.
• A&M-Commerce 67, Eastern New Mexico 62 – OT (Feb. 18, 2012): 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.
• A&M-Commerce 75, Abilene Christian 72 (Feb. 22, 2012): Behind a late 12-0 run and a pair of defensive stops in the waning minute, A&M-Commerce kept its postseason hopes alive thanks to a 75-72 win at Abilene Christian behind 17 points each from both Devondrick Walker and Preston Whitley.
• A&M-Commerce 83, Angelo State 78 (Feb. 25, 2012): The Lions built a commanding 21-point lead against the Rams in the second half, then held off a furious rally to knock off Angelo State 83-78 in the regular season finale, eliminating the Rams from postseason contention and clinching the eight seed in the Lone Star Conference tournament.