A&M-COMMERCE'S SKID HITS FOUR IN 78-53 LOSS AT TARLETON STATE
No. 5 Tarleton State 78, A&M-Commerce 53
Location: Wisdom Gym * Stephenville, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (6-11, 1-8 LSC); Tarleton State (17-1, 9-0 LSC)
Up Next: at Midwestern State * Wednesday, January 25 * 8 p.m.
STEPHENVILLE, Texas -- Three nights after pushing fifth-ranked Tarleton State to the edge at the Field House, little went right for A&M-Commerce in Stephenville as the Texans dominated the Lions from the opening whistle en route to a 78-53 rout at Wisdom Gym. A&M-Commerce drops its fourth-straight game, falling to 6-11 on the year and 1-8 in Lone Star Conference play.
Brad Hambrick led A&M-Commerce with 13 points on the night, including three-of-seven from three-point range. Desmond King added 12 points for the Lions and was a perfect eight-for-eight from the free-throw line, but was held to just one rebound for A&M-Commerce.
Esteban Arriola continues his solid play, recording eight points with a pair of rebounds and two assists, complemented by seven points and four rebound from Quince Jackson. Preston Whitley also added seven points and four boards off the bench while Devondrick Walker and Andrew Davis both tied for the team high with four rebounds.
After dropping a 73-69 decision to the fifth-ranked Texans Wednesday night, A&M-Commerce felt confident it could compete with Tarleton State on its home court in the back-end of the team's home-and-home series. The Lions struggled out of the gate, falling behind 11-4 less than five minutes into the game.
But that is where the wheels came off A&M-Commerce's upset bid as Tarleton State would reel off the next 22 points over a nine-minute span, taking control of the game with a 33-4 lead. The Texans would extend that lead to 30 at 36-6 two minutes later and the rout was on at Wisdom Gym. Tarleton State would reach that 30-point advantage again at 42-12 with 41 seconds remaining in the half before taking a 42-17 lead into the halftime break.
The Texans boast the nation's top defense, and it lived up to its reputation in the opening half, holding A&M-Commerce to just three field goals as the Lions shot just 15.8 percent through the opening 20 minutes (3-of-19).
A&M-Commerce showed some signs of life early in the second half, outscoring Tarleton State 11-2 through the first five minutes of the second stanza and cutting the deficit to 16 at 44-28. The Lions would get to within 16 two more times in the second half, the last of which came at 60-44 with 6:31 to go. But the Texans were not about to bow on their home court, keeping the Lions at bay to notch the comfortable 78-53 victory and give head coach Lonn Reisman his 500th career victory.
The Lions continuted to struggle from the floor in the second half, hitting just eight of its 21 shots for 38.1 percent. For the game, A&M-Commerce shot just 27.5 percent, making only 11 shots from the floor. Six of those were three-pointers, finishing the game 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
Chris Harrell led the Texans with 21 points and six rebound with Shedrick Haynes adding 15 points and five assists. Fabian Wilson was held to just 10 points after scoring 27 in Commerce Wednesday night while Wes Dipprey led all players with 11 rebounds on the night.
The loss at Tarleton proved to be doubly painful for A&M-Commerce as not only did the Lions drop their fourth-straight to fall to 1-8 in LSC play, but Angelo State defeated Abilene Christian, moving the Lions into the basement in the 10-team standings. Only the top eight teams qualify for the Lone Star Conference tournament in Allen at the end of next month.
The road doesn't get any easier for the Lions as they remain on the road this Wednesday, making the always-difficult trip to Wichita Falls to battle nationally-ranked Midwestern State. Opening tip against the Mustangs is scheduled for 8 p.m.