LIONS CAN'T OVERCOME SLUGGISH START, FALL TO PATRIOTS 71-61
Dallas Baptist 71, A&M-Commerce 61
Location: Burg Center * Dallas, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (1-2); Dallas Baptist (4-2)
Up Next: vs. Arkansas-Fort Smith * Saturday, Nov. 26 * 4 p.m. * Dallas, Texas
DALLAS -- A&M-Commerce had a sluggish start against Dallas Baptist, digging itself an early hole it couldn't overcome, falling to Dallas Baptist 71-61 at the Burg Center. The Lions drop to 1-2 on the season and drop its opener of the Patriot Thanksgiving Classic.
"You can't fall behind that early and commit that many turnovers against a team like Dallas Baptist and expect to win," said head coach Sam Walker. "We were getting good looks in the first half but they just weren't falling. In the second half we started to gain a little more confidence and made a game out of it, but our achilles heel all season thus far has been turnovers and it happened to us again tonight."
Brad Hambrick led the Lions with 17 points on the night with a pair of rebounds and a pair of assists while LaBree Sledge added 12 points and a pair of assists. Desmond King was held scoreless in the first half but rallied to finish with nine points and seven rebounds with Andrew Davis adding eight points and seven boards as well.
Playing in the second game of the Patriot Thanksgiving Classic, A&M-Commerce had trouble making shots in the early going, hitting just two of its first 12 shots and registering just five points through the opening 10 minutes of the contest.
Dallas Baptist, on the other hand, used a tough inside game to pull ahead to a commanding 17-5 lead with 9:48 remaining in the opening half. The Patriots extended the advantage to 13 at 25-12 and held a 32-19 lead at the intermission over the Lions.
"I do give credit to our guys for not panicking in the first half," Walker said. "We still felt that we could make a game of it in the second half, and we did. But we just didn't do enough of the little things this evening."
A basket early in the second half would give Dallas Baptist its largest lead of the night at 34-19 as the Patriots were able to maintain a comfortable distance over the Lions. But trailing 40-27, A&M-Commerce finally made its move. The Lions put together a 13-2 run, spurred on by a big three-pointer by Sledge. Mouhamadou N'doye put together a solid performance during the run, accounting for three points and a pair of blocks for A&M-Commerce.
But the run proved to be short-lived as Dallas Baptist was able to pull back out in front, extending its lead to 10 at 61-51, then held off A&M-Commerce down the stretch to hand the Lions their second consecutive loss.
After shooting a dismal 24 percent in the opening half, A&M-Commerce shot a much improved 60 percent in the second, finishing the game with a 43.6 percent field goal percentage (24-of-55). The Lions hit seven-of-21 three-pointers, five of which came from Hambrick, and were six-of-eight from the free-throw line. But one of the key differences in the game came from the charity stripe as Dallas Baptist nearly tripled the number of free throw attempts, hitting 17-of-23 (73.9 percent) and had 19 turnovers compared to 23 for A&M-Commerce.
Dallas Baptist's Nick Fox led the Patriots with a double-double on the evening, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan McGowen posted 15 points for DBU with T.J. Clark finishing with 14 for the Patriots.
A&M-Commerce will have little time to stew over the loss as it will be back on the court in less than 20 hours, facing Arkansas-Fort Smith in the finale of the 2011 Patriot Thanksgiving Classic. The Arkansas Lions defeated former Lone Star Conferece foe Southwestern Oklahoma 78-67 in the early game of the tournament. It will be the first time the two schools will have faced each other, with the battle of the Lions tipping off at 4 p.m. Fans can stay up to the action with J.P. Heath on KETR 88.9 FM or online at ketr.org. Live stats will also be available at LionAthletics.com.