LIONS FIGHT OFF JAVELINAS, 77-70, FOR THIRD-STRAIGHT VICTORY
A&M-Commerce 77, Texas A&M-Kingsville 70
Location: The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (14-10, 7-7 LSC); A&M-Kingsville (10-11, 6-8 LSC)
Up Next: at Midwestern State • Wednesday, Feb. 20 • 8 p.m.
COMMERCE, Texas – Heading into Saturday's showdown at the Field House, A&M-Commerce and rival Texas A&M-Kingsville were deadlocked in sixth-place in the LSC standings as a win would go a long way to securing a spot in Allen. Down the stretch it was the Lions that made the key shots when it counted, holding off the Javelinas 77-70 at the Field House.
With the victory, A&M-Commerce notches it's third-straight win, improving to 14-10 overall, pulling even at 7-7 in Lone Star Conference play and moving into a tie with Eastern New Mexico for fifth in the standings. The Javelinas drop to 10-11 overall and 6-8 in LSC play moving into a tie for seventh with West Texas A&M.
Preston Whitley once again paced the A&M-Commerce offense, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds, complemented by 11 points and four assists from Stefon Carson. Andrew Davis came up big as well, logging 10 points with a team-best eight rebounds, hitting six of nine free throws to help preserve the victory.
Devondrick Walker finished with eight points for the Lions with Quince Jackson adding seven points off the bench with four assists. Tyrie Wooten and Donavon Gage each finished with six points as well.
In what was an even game throughout, A&M-Commerce shot 44.0 percent from the floor, compared to a nearly identical 43.9 percent for A&M-Kingsville. Both teams were nearly identical from three-point range as well as the Lions hit 40.0 percent of their attempts with the Javelinas hitting 39.1 percent. But the story of the game may have come from the free throw line as the Lions were 29-of-40, hitting 72.5 percent, while the Javelinas made just three of their 17 attempts, shooting an abysmal 17.6 percent.
After notching a pair of key road victories, A&M-Commerce was looking to keep the streak going on its home court, only to see A&M-Kingsville use a fast-paced attack to build a nine-point lead at 29-20 with 7:13 remaining.
But the Lions continued to chip away at the deficit, quietly putting together a 17-4 run of its own down the stretch, reclaiming the lead off a pair of free throws and an and-one from Whitley as A&M-Commerce held a 37-33 lead at halftime.
The second half turned into a blow-for-blow battle as neither team was able to build a lead of more than four points for the majority. A&M-Commerce and A&M-Kingsville combined for six ties and 14 lead changes over the final 20 minutes as the Javelinas looked as if they were establishing some momentum, building a 65-61 lead with 4:52 to play.
But the final five minutes belonged to the Lions who outscored the Javelinas 16-5 down the stretch, almost identical to the run they put together to close out the first half. A fast break lay-up from Whitley, followed by a transition three-pointer from the senior put A&M-Commerce on top 67-65 with 3:15 to go.
A&M-Kingsville would claim its last lead of the night at 68-67 with 2:21 to go, but a jumper from Jackson gave A&M-Commerce a lead it wouldn't relinquish. The Lions then iced the game with strong free throw shooting, earning the 77-70 victory and snapping a three-game losing streak to their South Texas rivals.
Jamahl Brown led the way for A&M-Kingsville with 24 points, going 5-of-7 from three-point range. Rashad Basey added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Javelinas as Dwight Taylor finished with 12.
The Lions are peaking at the right time as they now face arguably the most daunting week of the LSC schedule, facing the top two teams in back-to-back games. A&M-Commerce travels to top-seeded Midwestern State for an 8 p.m. battle on Wednesday, February 20th, before returning to the Field House to take on second-seeded Cameron at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 23rd. Full coverage of both games (video, audio, live stats) are available at LionAthletics.com.