Saturday, December 11, 2010

West Texas A&M Comes Back to Defeat TAMU-Commerce, 76-75

Buffs overcome 15-point second-half deficit to remain unbeaten

COMMERCE, Texas –West Texas A&M used a second half flurry to overcome a double-digit, second-half deficit and beat Texas A&M-Commerce, 76-75, Saturday evening at the Texas A&M-Commerce Field House in Commerce, Texas.

The win lifts WTAMU to 8-0 on the year, marking the first time the Buffaloes have opened a season with eight consecutive wins since doing so at the start of the 1997-98 Elite Eight campaign.  TAMU-C falls to 5-2.

Trailing by nine points at the half, the Buffaloes fell behind by 15 points with 14:24 remaining in the game, but outscored the Lions by a 46-33 count from that point to take the road win.

“That was a great effort in the second half to pull this one out,” said WT head coach Rick Cooper. “Jacquiese Holcombe was just extraordinary on the boards and Alex Davis hit some huge three’s for us down the stretch.

We still have some stuff we need to fix.  We’re turning the ball over way too many times and we’re walking a precariously thin line between making big plays and turning the ball over to often.”

The Buffs held a brief, 2-0 lead, but the Lions established their up-tempo game early, as well as applying good defensive pressure on WT. Plus, the Lions made five first-half three pointers, contributing to a lead that grew to as many as 17 points late in the half.

The Buffs cut the halftime margin to nine points, as TAMU-Commerce held a 38-29 lead at the halftime break.  To that point, senior guard Joe Mincey, who missed Thursday’s game due to illness, had tallied 12 points.

TAMU-C’s Stefan Carson hit a jumper with 14:24 to play in the second half, giving the home-standing Lions their largest lead of the game, 51-36.

From that point, it was all WT.  Senior forward Alex Davis started the streak by hitting a jumper at the 13:32 mark.  Davis then hit a lay-up and drew a foul with 12:33 remaining to close the gap to 10 points.  Junior guard Rod Little and senior forward Donnie Kidd then hit consecutive lay-ins to make it a seven point game and complete a 7-1 mini run.

Then, with 11:36 to play, senior guard LaDarius Hall scored a layup off a Lionel Foster steal to make it a five point game, 46-41.

The Buffs continued to chip away.  A slam dunk by senior forward Jacquiese Holcombe just inside the seven minute mark made the score 60-57, the closest WT had been since the game’s early moments.

The Lions then opened a five point lead only to see WT senior post Alex Davis nailed a long distance three to cut the lead to just two points,

Following a Holcombe steal, Davis connected on a second-consecutive three-pointer, giving the Buffs their first lead, 65-64, since the game’s opening minute.

The Lions quickly re-took the lead with a pair of Brian Singleton free throws with just under four minutes to play.

Rod Little answered with a put-back of a miss, putting WT back ahead, 67-66, only to see Desmond King answer on the other end.

Lionel Foster then Little, driving to the bucket, and hit him for the layup, putting WT back on top, 68-66.  Following a Lion missed trey, Foster again found Little down low and Little again converted to give WT its biggest lead of the game to that point at 70-66.

On the Lions ensuing possession, Hall made a steal and fed Holcombe, who was fouled as he powered to the bucket with 1:54 remaining.  Holcombe made the second of two free throw opportunities to make the score 72-68.

Again, the Lions came up empty as Stephan Carson slipped as he tried to drive, losing the ball out of bounds.

Running the clock, Hall took a three-point shot with 38 seconds to play.  While missing, Holcombe grabbed the rebound, was fouled, made the first but missed the second, giving the Buffs a 73-68 lead.

A pair of TAMU-C free throws cut the Buffs’ lead to 73-70 with just over 30 seconds to play.

Inbounding the ball, WT took a full timeout and upon resumption of play, Foster was immediately fouled.  The Houston, Texas, native hit both of his shots, boosting the Buffs’ lead to two possessions at 75-70.

TAMU-C’s Singleton drove the lane for an easy bucket, closing the score to 75-72 with 12 seconds to play.

Again, the Lions fouled immediately, this time sending Hall to the line.  The Thomasville, Ga., native hit the first of two shots to put WT up 76-72.  A last second Lion three was good, making the final WT 76, TAMU-C 75.

Over the final 15:59, the Buffs had outscored the Lions by a 43-29 count to take the win.

Holcombe led the Buffs with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.  Mincey finished with 12 points, all scored in the first half.  Davis had 11 points, all scored in the second half, while Hall tallied 10 points.  Foster, the LSC assist leader, finished the night with a career-high 10 assists.

Four Lions scored in double-figures, with Austin Brown, Brian Singleton and Desmond King each hitting 16 points, while Brad Hambrick tallied 11 points.  Brown also pulled down 11 rebounds.

The Buffs outrebounded the Lions by a 38-31 count and forced 20 Lion turnovers while making 19 themselves.

“This was a great confidence booster for our team,” Cooper said.  “To have been behind by as many points as we were in the second half and to come back to win is just a great boost for this team.  I like the tenacity and stick-to-itiveness of this team.  We have some depth and we get a lot of help from a lot of people.”

The Buffaloes take a short break for final exams before returning to action Wednesday, Dec 15, when they host UT-Permian Basin. Tipoff at the First United Bank Center is set for 7 p.m. CST.  They will then host games against Central Oklahoma on Saturday, Dec. 18 and Northeastern State on Monday, Dec. 20.

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