A&M-Commerce 86, Incarnate Word 84
Location: McDermott Center • San Antonio, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (13-10, 6-7 LSC); Incarnate Word (12-9, 8-5 LSC)
Up Next: vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville • Saturday, Feb. 16 • 4:00 p.m.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – If Wednesday's game was the final meeting between A&M-Commerce and Incarnate Word, both squads made sure it was one to remember. The Lions pulled ahead late in the second half then held off a late Cardinal run, notching a crucial 86-84 victory at the McDermott Center.
A&M-Commerce notched its second-straight road victory, upping its record to 13-10 overall and 6-7 in Lone Star Conference play as the Lions continue its quest for a berth in the LSC Basketball Championships in Allen. Incarnate Word, who sits second in the LSC standings, dropped its third-straight, falling to 12-9 overall and 8-5 in conference action.
The Lions found their scoring touch once again, shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and 47.6 percent from three-point range. Four players scored in double figures, led by Tyrie Wooten's 18 points, including going 5-of-8 from three-point range, with five rebounds. Stefon Carson added 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting with five assists for A&M-Commerce.
Both Preston Whitley and Jason Smith finished with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench with Smith adding three assists and a pair of steals. Andrew Davis added notched eight points and seven rebounds while Quince Jackson recorded seven points on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range with three assists as well.
Playing for the final time before Incarnate Word makes the jump to Division I next year, the Cardinals found its scoring touch early, using an 11-5 run to pull ahead by seven at 19-12 with eight minutes gone in the opening half. But a 10-3 run by A&M-Commerce pulled the Lions even at 22-22 five minutes later as an 8-5 run gave the Lions a 30-27 edge with four minutes remaining in the half.
A&M-Commerce would extend its lead to five at 36-31 with under a minute to go before halftime as head coach Sam Walker's squad had regained all the momentum. But the Cardinals sent a message in the waning seconds, hitting a jumper followed by a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 36-36.
Both the Lions and Cardinals put together some small runs early in the second half as both teams built leads of four points through the first 10 minutes. A lay-up by Davis tied the game at 61-61, which sparked back-to-back threes from Wooten as A&M-Commerce built a four-point advantage at 67-63. A three from Smith and a dunk from Davis extended that lead to eight at 72-64 with 6:23 remaining.
From that point on, the Lions and Cardinals staged a classic race to the finish line as Incarnate Word continued to chip away at the A&M-Commerce advantage. Trailing 84-80, the Cardinals hit four free throws on a pair of possessions, tying the game at 84-84 with 36 seconds remaining.
Smith converted a jump shot to make it 86-84, setting up the A&M-Commerce defense for one crucial stop. With the ball in the hands of Andre Corley, Incarnate Word's best shooter, the potential game-tying shot was no good, giving the Lions the much-needed road victory.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak to the Cardinals as the final series sits at 8-5 with Incarnate Word holding the advantage. More importantly, it helps A&M-Commerce distance itself from ninth-place Abilene Christian and pull to within a game of sixth-place West Texas A&M in the LSC standings.
Incarnate Word had a balanced attack similar to A&M-Commerce as four players finished with at least 16 points, led by 19 points and nine rebounds from Dionelle Rucker. Lyn'Dale Brown and Kyle Hittle each finished with 18 points with Denzel Livingston adding 16, but that was all the help the foursome would get as the rest of the squad contributed just 13 points on the night.
The victory sets up a big showdown with long-time rival Texas A&M-Kingsville this Saturday, February 16th at the Field House. The Javelinas knocked off Tarleton State 56-55 in Kingsville Wednesday night, keeping them in a tie with the Lions for seventh-place in the standings at 6-7. Opening tip is set for 4 p.m. with full coverage (audio, video, live state) at LionAthletics.com
Saturday's game also marks the Lions' Pink Zone game for 2012-13 as there will be handful of activities to help raise funds for breast cancer research. Fans wearing pink to the game will receive free admission with cancer survivors recognized during the game. For more information, contact the A&M-Commerce Athletic Department at (903) 886-5558.