LIONS HOLD OFF ZIAS, 66-64, TO CLINCH SEVENTH SEED IN LSC TOURNEY
A&M-Commerce 66, Eastern New Mexico 64
Location: Greyhound Arena · Portales, N.M.
Records: A&M-Commerce (10-15, 8-12 LSC); Eastern New Mexico (7-21, 6-14 LSC)
Up Next: LSC quarterfinals vs. Abilene Christian · Wednesday, March 6 · 12 p.m.
PORTALES, N.M. – With postseason conference seeding on the line, A&M-Commerce was able to make the plays it needed to as the Lions close out the regular season with a 66-64 victory at Eastern New Mexico Saturday afternoon. The victory ups the Lions' record to 10-14 on the year and 8-12 in Lone Star Conference play, giving head coach Nicole Anderson her first 10-win season at the helm of the Lions.
With the victory, A&M-Commerce clinched the seventh seed in the 2013 Lone Star Conference Basketball Championships next week at the Allen Event Center. The Lions will go head-to-head with second-seeded Abilene Christian in the first game of the tournament, tipping off at noon on Wednesday, March 6 at the Allen Event Center.
Once again, it was Breanna Harris that led the way for the Lions, posting her 14th double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds, including hitting seven of her nine free throw attempts with six offensive rebounds. La'Tisha Hearne came off the bench to notch 14 points with seven rebounds, including four offensive boards.
Symone Brown and Danielle Dixon each notched 12 points on the afternoon with a pair of rebounds while Dixon dished out a team-best three assists. Ashlee Johnson added eight points and team-high four steals in helping lead A&M-Commerce to the victory.
A&M-Commerce jumped out to a quick advantage at Greyhound Arena, building a seven-point lead at 16-7 midway through the opening half. Eastern New Mexico responded with a 14-2 run of its own, taking the lead at 21-18 with five minutes to play in the opening half, only to see the Lions tally a 12-2 run of their own to rebuild its seven-point cushion at 30-23 in the waning moments before taking a 30-27 lead at the half.
In the second half, A&M-Commerce was able to maintain its lead throughout, fighting off a pair of Eastern New Mexico runs that tied the game at 45-45 midway through the second half. A 15-5 run for A&M-Commerce gave the Lions their biggest advantage of the game at 61-51 with 4:46 to go, but the Zias had one last run left in them. Eastern cut the deficit to one with under a minute to play, then had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but the three-point attempt was no good, sealing the victory and the seven seed for A&M-Commerce.
The Lions shot just 38.6 percent from the floor but held a commanding 15-4 edge in offensive rebounds, giving A&M-Commerce 15 more field goal attempts than the Zias, who shot 45.5 percent from the floor. What nearly cost the Lions was hitting just 45 percent of their free throw attempts as aside from the 7-of-9 from Harris, the rest of the team hit just two of 11 from the charity stripe.
Lakeeyscia Griffin posted a double-double for the Zias with 14 points and 11 rebounds while adding eight assists while Hannah Altheide added 12 points and seven boards for Eastern New Mexico. Jasmine Johnson finished with 10 points while Jaylyn Cooper posted nine points and six rebounds with three assists.
With the regular season in the books, the Lions now set their sights on their first postseason appearance since the 2008-09 season, facing second-seeded Abilene Christian Wednesday at noon. Tickets for the 2013 LSC Basketball Championship are available through the A&M-Commerce Athletic Department at (903) 886-5558 or can be purchased at the Allen Event Center on game day.