LAST SECOND JUMPER LIFTS LIONS PAST WILDCATS, 90-88, IN LSC OPENER
A&M-Commerce 90, Abilene Christian 88
Location: Moody Coliseum · Abilene, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (6-2, 1-0 LSC); Abilene Christian (4-3, 1-2 LSC)
Up Next: vs. Angelo State · Saturday, December 8 · 4 p.m. · The Field House
ABILENE, Texas – A&M-Commerce looked in control in the waning minutes against Abilene Christian, building a 10-point lead with two minutes remaining in the game. But after a furious Wildcat rally, a critical jumper by Tyrie Wooten with two seconds left lifted the Lions to a 90-88 victory in its 2012-13 Lone Star Conference opener. A&M-Commerce wins its fourth-straight game, improving to 6-2 on the year.
A balanced offensive attack saw five different Lions finish in double figures on the evening, led by 17 from both Jason Smith and Preston Whitley as Whitley added a team-high seven rebounds. Andrew Davis finished with 14 points and four rebounds as Stefon Carson notched 12 points and Devondrick Walker added 11 points and three assists.
Wooten finished with nine points and a team-high four assists, including the game-winner with the clock winding down. Kenny Brown posted seven points and a block with Craig Fofang notching three points, three rebounds and a team-best two blocks.
Both teams were efficient from the floor as A&M-Commerce shot 58.6 percent from the floor, including a blistering 71.4 percent in the second half, while Abilene Christian finished with a 53.6 percent mark from the floor. The Lions also hit 44.4 percent from three-point range, including a perfect 4-for-4 in the second half, but the biggest key came from the free throw line. A&M-Commerce hit 58.3 percent of its attempts, but it was the Wildcats struggles from the foul line, hitting just 43.8 percent, that proved to be a key.
It proved to be a game of runs as both A&M-Commerce and Abilene Christian would find their grooves at various points throughout the contest. After watching the Lions build a seven-point lead early at 11-4, the Wildcats would string together a 12-0 run on its home floor to pull ahead by five at 16-11.
Abilene Christian led by as many as six in the opening half, building a 25-19 advantage with just under seven minutes remaining. Leading 34-30 with just over a minute to go, the Wildcats were looking to take a lead into halftime, but A&M-Commerce had other plans, mounting a 7-2 run, capped by a Carson three-pointer at the buzzer to take a 37-36 lead into intermission.
After exchanging baskets in the early stages of the second half, Abilene Christian once again began to pull away, building an eight-point lead at 57-49 with five minutes gone. But the Lions weren't going down without a fight, stringing together a 21-6 run over a six-minute span to pull ahead by nine at 81-72 with just over four minutes remaining. A&M-Commerce extended that cushion to 10 at 86-76 with 2:29 and appeared poised to finish off the Wildcats.
But Abilene Christian staged one last rally, setting up a thrilling final two minutes. The Wildcats outscored the 12-2 over the next two minutes, pulling even with A&M-Commerce at 88-88 with 19 seconds remaining. Wooten struggled over the final minute, missing a pair of free throws then turning the ball over which set up the game-tying three pointer by the Wildcats. But Wooten would get a chance to redeem himself and took full advantage, hitting a jumper with two seconds left to give the Lions the 90-88 victory.
It was a fitting send-off for A&M-Commerce, playing what could be its last game at Moody Coliseum for the forseeable future. It was the second-straight nailbiter in Abilene as the Lions rallied in the final minute to notch a crucial 75-72 victory back in February, a win that kept A&M-Commerce's postseason hopes alive.
Eric Lawton led the way for Abilene Christian, finishing with a game-high 24 points with Cornelius Cammock adding 14 points off the bench. Elliott Lloyd notched 13 points for the Wildcats with Steven Werner posting 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
A&M-Commerce now looks to extend its winning streak to five games as it returns home for another Lone Star Conference showdown, welcoming Angelo State to the Field House Saturday afternoon. Opening tip against the Rams is scheduled for 4 p.m. with live video and live statistics available online at LionAthletics.com.