LIONS SQUANDER FIRST HALF ADVANTAGE IN 70-61 LOSS TO TEXANS
Tarleton State 70, A&M-Commerce 61
Location: The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (11-8, 4-5 LSC); Tarleton State (10-6, 4-5 LSC)
Up Next: at Tarleton State • Saturday, Feb. 2 • 7:00 p.m. • Stephenville
COMMERCE, Texas – A&M-Commerce built itself a commanding first half advantage, leading by 12 in the closing minutes of the first, but a furious Tarleton State rally came back to cost the Lions in a 70-61 defeat at the Field House Saturday afternoon. A&M-Commerce drops to 11-8 on the year and 4-5 in Lone Star Conference play.
Junior guard Tyrie Wooten had one of his best performances as a Lion, notching a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists on the afternoon, complemented by three rebounds and a steal. Preston Whitley paced the Lion offensive attack with 15 points while Andrew Davis and Stefon Carson each contributed 11 for A&M-Commerce.
But the rest of the lineup provided little support as Abdoulaye N'doye's four points was the next highest total for the Lions on the afternoon as A&M-Commerce matched Tarleton State, shooting 38.5 percent from the floor. Kenny Brown added three points and five rebounds with three other Lions finishing with two points each.
With both teams shooting even from the floor and comparable from three-point range (44.4 percent for the Lions and 39.1 percent for the Texans), the biggest discrepancy came from the free throw line where Tarleton State attempted 30 free throws, compared to just five for A&M-Commerce.
A&M-Commerce came out of the gates strong, especially Davis. In a span of three minutes, the senior forward hit a three-pointer, drew a charge and had three reverse layups helping the Lions race out to an early 27-17 advantage. A three from Wooten gave A&M-Commerce a 32-20 lead with just over five minutes remaining before halftime as the Lions seemed to be firing on all cylinders.
But Tarleton State would respond in a major way, outscoring A&M-Commerce 13-2 over the final five minutes to pull to within one, trailing 34-33 at halftime. It put a damper on what had been a productive first half for the Lions, shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and four-of-eight from three-point range.
Both A&M-Commerce and Tarleton State exchanged baskets in the early going of the second half as the Lions would extend their lead to four at 43-39 off a lay-up from Whitley with 14:49 remaining. But unfortunately that only seemed to spark the Texan offensive attack, especially their three-point shooting. Tarleton State would outscore A&M-Commerce 31-18 over the final 15 minutes, including a 19-2 spurt that securely put the game into the Texans control.
Trailing by as many as 13, the Lions tried to mount one last rally in the waning minutes, pulling to within as many as six at 64-58, but it was a case of too little too late as Tarleton State held on for the 70-61 decision, giving the Texans their first road win of the season.
Coleman Furst led the way for Tarleton State, finishing with 18 points while hitting three of his five three point attempts, while Chuck Guy added 16 points, including going nine-for-10 from the free throw line to help seal the victory for the Texans. De'Andre Upchurch came off the bench to record 14 points in the victory, aided by his four-of-nine shooting from three-point range.
With that, A&M-Commerce closes out the first half of the Lone Star Conference schedule and will have seven days to try to figure out a way to return the favor to the Texans. The Lions make the trek to Stephenville next Saturday, February 2, for the second half of the home-and-home series with their Lone Star Conference rivals, tipping at 7 p.m. at Wisdom Gym. Full coverage of the game (video, radio and stats) will be available at LionAthletics.com.