Lions post furious comeback but fall 57-55 to West Texas A&M in final minute of LSC Tournament Championship
By Texas A&M University-Commerce
Mar 10, 2019
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Frisco, Texas -- The Texas A&M University-Commerce men's basketball team lost a heartbreaking finish in the LSC Tournament Championship game, falling 57-55 to West Texas A&M. After trailing by 17 in the first half, the Lions battled back and took the lead in the final minute but could not hold on as a buzzer-beating three to win went off the mark.
The loss brings the Lions to 23-8 on the season while the Buffaloes improve to 31-3 on the year.
The Lions await the release of the official NCAA South Central Regional rankings to determine their seed in the NCAA Division II Tournament. The NCAA will release the NCAA Tournament field at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday.
- Willie Rooks (Houston North Forest) led the team with 19 points and also posted a double-double with 10 rebounds. Rooks was named to the LSC All-Tournament team.
- Trey Conrod (Kilgore) also had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He too was named to the All-Tournament team.
- Deonta Terrell (Chicago, Ill.) had eight points while Reggie Reid (Harlem, Ga.) had seven points. Austin Grandstaff (Rockwall) hit back-to-back threes in the game.
- WT started the game on a 13-0 run and led by as many as 17 in the first half. The Lions took the lead three times late in the game, including twice in the final two minutes.
- The Lions are now 4-6 in LSC Tournament Championship games.
Head Coach Jaret von Rosenberg:
Thoughts on the game: "There are things I wish I could have back, like I'm sure all our guys do. But at the end of the day, we didn't get it done. We gave ourselves a chance in the last four minutes. That's what we talk about all the time and that's all you can ask for. But they made one more play than we did."
On the slow start: "That's multiple times now. We have to start games better. You can't play a caliber opponent like that and put yourself in a hole and expect to give yourself a chance to win. But I give credit to our guys for settling in on the defensive end. We started making things tougher on them. Hats off to West Texas. Credit to Tom Brown and his staff. They did a nice job."
On the defense late in the first half to get back in the game: "It seemed like we were keeping the ball outside the perimeter and making them shoot contested jump shots. We did a nice job of contesting shots at the rim and didn't give them second-chance opportunities. That allowed us to get back in the game. But to their credit, they did a nice job defensively themselves because if you go eight minutes scoreless, the scoreboard can flip in a hurry. They were able to continue to get enough stops to keep the lead going into halftime."
Looking ahead to NCAA Tournament: "I told our group, and I really believe this, if we think we've arrived or think we are as good as we can be, we will be in trouble next week. We have to get back and get prepared for our next opponent. If we can just get a little bit better, I don't care in what area. But we have to find a way to get a little bit better and keep doing that as long as we get to play. I know for a fact that we will be locked in. Next week it is win or go home. We will look to give ourselves a chance in the last four minutes and hopefully we will learn from this, myself included, and be better late in games. That way, if we are in the same situation in the NCAA Tournament, we can overcome and win that game."
Willie Rooks:
Thoughts on the game: "It was a battle. We were going back and forth through the whole game. Credit to the guys on West Texas. It was a battle. We were just trying to find ways to get stops and trying to find a way to score. But we just wanted to give ourselves a chance to win in the last four minutes, and we did that. We have to live with the results."
On playing in the championship: "It was fun. Especially when we went up. It was exciting. I wish we could do it again... we are going to do it again."
Trey Conrod:
On the team's mindset after falling behind early: "We just have to play our game. We know after starting off slow that we had to just chip back and not try to score all the points at one time. We can't try to do too much at once. But we kept playing our defense and sticking to the game plan that we had. We started doing the game plan and things started working out. We got stops and buckets and chipped away. My team did a good job. Everyone was locked in. Everybody bought into what we were trying to do."
On the defensive focus: "My focus was to not led Quaid touch the ball. I trusted my teammates to do their job on the backside while I fronted the post. That was me believing in my teammates to be there if they threw the ball behind me."
The Lions started cold, missing their first five shots. The Lions also had four early turnovers, leading to a 13-0 opening run by WT. Conrod got the Lions on the board with an and-one take to the bucket. Five minutes into the half, the Lions trailed 13-3. WT continued its hot shooting from beyond the arc, pushing its lead to 16 points.
Rooks hit consecutive shots as the Lions started to find their touch on the offensive side. However, the Buffaloes continued to hit their shots as the lead stayed in the teens. The Lion defense strung together multiple stops, holding WT without a basket for more than six minutes. The Lions in turn went on a 11-0 run to cut the WT lead to just six points with three minutes to lay.
The Lions finished the half well as well. The Lion defense caused the Buffaloes to miss 11 of their final 12 shots of the half The Lions finished the final 10 minutes of the half on a 14-2 run. Rooks led the Lions with nine points and also pulled in eight rebounds.
WT started the second half much like the first as they scored the first seven points of the half. The Lions answered back with nine in a row, including seven from Rooks to cut the lead to just three points. After the teams traded buckets, Grandstaff hit a three to tie the game at 40 at the 12-minute mark. Grandstaff then hit another three to give the Lions their first lead of the game. The Lions used their 17-2 run to take a 43-40 advantage.
WT went on a 10-0 run of their own to take the lead back. The Lions surged again to cut the lead to two points with three minutes left. The Lions then took the lead back on a step back three from Reid. The teams traded leads down the stretch before WT took a two-point lead with five seconds to play. A last-second heave from half court was off the mark and time expired.