Newman 73, A&M-Commerce 59
Location: The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (1-9); Newman (10-2)
Up Next: at West Texas A&M • Wednesday, Jan. 4 • 6 p.m.
COMMERCE, Texas -- Trailing big in the second half against Newman, A&M-Commerce made a furious late rally, pulling to within eight at 66-58 with just under four minutes to play. But the Lions couldn't cut the deficit any more, falling to the Jets 73-59 at the Field House.
Danielle Dixon caught fire, finishing with 23 points, one shy of her career-best. Ten of those points came during the Lions' second half surge as she also added three rebounds with a pair of assists. Breanna Harris also had another solid game, recording her fourth double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds, seven of which were offensive.
Bianca Stevenson also came on strong off the bench for the Lady Lions, finishing with seven points and 10 rebounds, including four offensive boards. La'Tisha Hearne also added seven points with two rebounds for A&M-Commerce while Michelle Sutton finished with five points and four boards.
A&M-Commerce knew coming in it would have its hands full against Newman, a 9-2 team that was receiving votes in this week's USA Today/ESPN Division II Top-25 poll, and those suspicions were confirmed early. The Jets controlled the game from nearly the opening tip, racing out to a 26-10 lead through the first 12 minutes of the game.
The Lions struggled from the floor, making just one of their first 12 shots while Newman forced 10 A&M-Commerce turnovers. The Jets would continue to extend their lead, eventually building it to a 21-point cushion at halftime at 39-18, thanks in part to 19 points off A&M-Commerce turnovers compared to none for the Lions.
Newman's Satoria Bell, who came into the game leading the nation in points scored, continued to show her playmaking ability. Bell had 21 points at halftime, single-handedly outscoring the Lions through the first 20 minutes. A&M-Commerce hit just five of its 26 first half shots, shooting just 19.2 percent from the floor compared to 48.3 percent for the Jets.
The second half started off much like the way the first half ended as Newman would build its largest lead of the game at 54-29 with 12:43 to go. The Lions were able to cut the lead to 16 at 62-46 with just over six minutes remaining as the Jets were cruising toward their 10th win.
But A&M-Commerce showed its resolve on its home court, putting together a valiant late-game surge. Led by 10 points from Dixon, including a pair of big three-point shots, the Lions put together a 13-4 run, pulling to within seven at 66-59 with 2:23 to play. But the deficit proved to be too great as Newman was able to force a couple of big Lion turnovers to close out the game with the 73-59 victory.
The Lions did improve their shooting in the second half, hitting 15-of-30 for 50 percent shooting from the field. But free throws continued to haunt A&M-Commerce as the Lions hit just nine of 23 attempts in the second half (39.1 percent) and 16 of 37 for the game (43.2 percent).
Bell finished with a game-high 34 for Newman with eight rebounds and two assists with Tasha Cannon adding 11 points, four rebounds and three assists. Alina Voronenko led the Jets in a pair of categories, recording nine rebounds and five assists.
The game against Newman closes out the Lions' non-conference schedule as A&M-Commerce now looks ahead toward the heart of its Lone Star Conference schedule. The Lions start off the new year with a trip to Canyon, facing West Texas A&M on Wednesday, January 4 at 6 p.m. A&M-Commerce then returns to the Field House for a meeting with Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, January 7 with a 6 p.m. tip. Both games can be heard on KETR 88.9 FM or online at KETR.org.