STEPHENVILLE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce women's basketball team went on a massive fourth quarter run to take an 89-74 win over Tarleton State University on Tuesday night in Wisdom Gym.
The Lions outscored Tarleton 24-6 in the fourth quarter to move to 10-4 overall and 5-2 in the Lone Star Conference, matching the best start to a season in program history. Tarleton falls to 5-8 overall and 4-3 in the league.
A&M-Commerce is next in action on Saturday, January 14, returning home for the first time in six weeks. The Lions host Texas Woman's for a 2 p.m. tipoff in Commerce. Students from grades kindergarten through 12th grade with an 'A' grade on their recent report cards will be admitted free to the next two Lion basketball home dates.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- The Lions shot 51.4 percent from the floor in the contest, including a 55.5 percent rate in the rampant fourth quarter.
- Khala Riley notched career highs in points and assists in the game, scoring 21 points and dishing out eight assists, also grabbing five rebounds.
- Artaejah Gay scored 18 points, while Brianna Wise scored 14 and Krystal Pickron notched 13.
- Jenna Price scored seven points and grabbed 10 boards.
- The Lions held a huge advantage in turnovers, forcing the TexAnns to cough up the ball 20 times, while turning it over only seven times themselves.
- TSU outrebounded the Lions 44-30.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Gay led the way for the Lions in the early going, scoring the first seven points for the guests. The TexAnns went on a 6-0 run after Gay's opening basket, but her layup at the 6:02 mark gave the Lions a 7-6 advantage.
Tarleton went on a 10-point run as the Lions went nearly three minutes without scoring. Hessong drained a triple at the 3:22 mark to stop the run and the Lions scored the final seven points of the quarter to trail 19-17 at the end of the first frame.
The Lions took the lead in the early stages of the second quarter on a free throw by Gay and a Penina Faumui layup to make it 20-19. Tarleton scored the next five points to regain the lead, then Wise hit a corner three-pointer to cut the TSU lead back down to one.
A&M-Commerce trailed by three at the 5:54 mark after a Riley three-point play, but the TexAnns went on a seven-point surge to take their lead to double digits at 38-28 with four minutes left in the half. Riley scored two baskets in the final minute to help narrow the Lion deficit to 45-40 at the break.
At the half, the Lions were shooting 45.9 percent from the field (17-of-37), with a 4-of-9 (44.4 percent) rate from long range. Riley had five assists at the half, and Price had five rebounds.
A&M-Commerce quickly erased the deficit after the break, scoring the first seven points of the third quarter. A pair of fastbreak layups from Pickron and Riley swung the lead to the Lions at 50-47 just over two minutes into the period.
Gay drilled a three-pointer to put the Lions up by three before the TexAnns erased the good work with an 11-point rampage to go up 58-50 at the 5:39 mark of the period.
The Lions chipped away with their own eight-point rally and tied the game at 61-all with 2:18 to play in the third. A mini-run by TSU saw the hosts carry a 68-65 advantage to the final period.
A&M-Commerce scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter as well, taking a lead they would not relinquish. A Riley three-point play put the Lions up by four, and after a TexAnn basket, the Lions went on another 8-0 run to push the lead to double digits for the first time.
Tarleton scored its last meaningful basket of the game at the 4:11 mark, and the Lions outscored TSU 24-6 in the fourth quarter.
HEAD COACH JASON BURTON AFTER THE GAME
His thoughts on the game
I'm so proud of these girls. They continue to fight. There were times where Tarleton had a 10-point lead on us and we kept doing what we do. We got stops and went on a run of our own. The run we went on in the fourth quarter was incredible. 24-6 run with tired bodies. I thought people came in and stepped up for us. We played our best half of basketball I believe. Definitely our best quarter of basketball right there."
On shooting a high percentage from the field
"You have to think, as bad as we've shot the ball in the first 10 games of the season, at some point the ball had to start going into the bucket for us. It did tonight."
On the defense
"This is never an easy place to play. I'm just proud of what we did coming in here and taking care of business. This is a really good team on the other side of the floor. And to hold the leading scorer in the conference to just 11 points, when she is averaging 20, we did a great job on her."
The play of Brianna Wise
"I told [Brianna], it wasn't just about the scoring. She guarded. She played some defense right there. And she altered shots and pressured up. She made those posts uncomfortable. She has a small frame but she guarded two strong posts and did a great job."
Fourth quarter defense
"We forced 11 turnovers in the second half. But more than that, we forced difficult shots. They only shot 18 percent in the fourth quarter and that is due to the pressure that we put on those girls."
On the strides his team is making
"Our team is starting to realize what it takes to win in this conference. More and more, they are buying into the game plan and to what we're doing. We told them how important pressure was and they found another gear. They dug in a little deeper and got out and pressured. And they saw the results. To hold a team like that to just six points in a quarter, especially in the fourth quarter, it's incredible."