STEPHENVILLE – The 13th-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce men's basketball team was tripped up in a battle at the top of the Lone Star Conference standings, as also 13th-ranked Tarleton State won 81-63 in Wisdom Gym on Tuesday night.
The Lions fall to 12-3 overall and 5-2 in the LSC, while Tarleton is now 14-2 overall and 6-1 in the league. A&M-Commerce is ranked 13th in the D2SIDA Media Poll, while Tarleton is ranked 13th in the NABC Coaches' Poll.
A&M-Commerce concludes a seven-game road trip with the loss. The Lions are off until Monday, January 16, when they return to the Field House for a 7:30 p.m. game against Arlington Baptist.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- The Lions were held to 33.3 percent shooting (22-of-66) in the game, while the Texans shot 49.2 percent (30-of-61). Of Tarleton's 30 made baskets, 14 were three-pointers.
- Trey Seymore led the Lions with 19 points with four rebounds.
- Malik Albert scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Jovan Austin scored 14 points.
- TSU held a 44-36 advantage on the board and outscored the Lions in the paint, 26-20.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Albert scored the Lions' first eight points, as the teams traded early baskets, and the game was tied 8-8 at the 16:21 mark. The Texans pushed ahead and led 15-10 at the 14:32 mark before the Lions tied it back up on an Austin three-pointer and a pair of Trey Washington free throws.
The Texans surged again, scoring seven straight points to go up by a 25-18 margin with seven minutes remaining in the frame. That seven-point margin held with just under five minutes to play, but A&M-Commerce chipped into the lead. A Daquane Willford layup surrounded by free throws narrowed the deficit to two.
Tarleton pushed ahead though and would lead by 10 at one point before a late Seymore jumper made it a 38-30 game at the half. The Lions shot 31.3 percent from the field in the first half (10-of-32), grabbed 18 rebounds, and picked up three steals.
Simon Shafack drained a three-pointer for the first basket of the second half, cutting the lead to 38-33. The teams battled back and forth and the Lions cut the lead down to three points at 43-40 on a Seymore fastbreak layup with 15:34 to play.
The margin was as small as three points on an Austin triple at the 8:47 mark with a 54-51 Tarleton lead. The Texans then went on a 13-5 surge to take a double-digit lead at the 4:58 mark on a Romond Jenkins to make it 67-56.
Austin responded with a three-point play on the next possession, but the Lions only converted on one field goal attempt in the final four and a half minutes, allowing TSU to pull away.
HEAD COACH SAM WALKER AFTER THE GAME
On how his team battled
"I thought we played really hard. I've had teams that have been in this situation that just kind of took the foot off the gas. I thought the foot was on the gas but it just seemed like we were a step slow. Rebounds that we usually get that we break out and get a layup were rebounds we were steps slow to and they got a put back. We live off of that. That's the reason why we scored 63 points when we are used to scoring close to 90. We missed those opportunities. We just didn't have it tonight."
On how his team took care of the ball
"When it gets into a grind with Tarleton, you are not going to beat them 95-91. You've got to find a way to beat them 71-69. They are going to keep control of the game and there are not as many possessions as we usually have. To only have 11 turnovers, and some of those were uncharacteristic turnovers, that was what we needed."
On the end of a seven-game road trip
"I look at this seven-game road swing and if you told me we were going to be 5-2 on it, I would have said there was no way. 4-3 would have been phenomenal. It would be right where you need to be. Especially if it is the right games. If you told me were going to be 12-3 through 15 games with a big home stand coming up, I would take it any day of the week."