Lions defeat Mustangs as Davis becomes program leader in games started

Jordan Ader, Sports Reporter

Princess Davis drives against WNMU
Princess Davis drives against WNMU | Photo by Ashley Tuppen

By Jordan Ader | Sports Reporter

Guard Princess Davis scored 18 points in her 102nd career start, a new Lion women’s basketball record, as Texas A&M University-Commerce defeated the Western New Mexico Mustangs 73-60 Thursday night at the Field House.

Davis, a redshirt senior and Kinesiology major, has started all but seven games during her tenure with A&M-Commerce, excluding her redshirt season when she started five contests before suffering a season-ending injury. In her career with the Lions, Davis is eighth in program history in steals, fifth in scoring, fourth in made free throws and second in assists.

In addition to her scoring numbers, Davis filled out the stat sheet with six assists, four rebounds and one steal. Forward Ekaterina Zhibareva led the Lions in rebounds (11) on her way to a very efficient double-double as she scored 13 points in only 23 minutes while shooting above 80 percent from the field. Guard Chania Wright led the Lions with three steals while pouring in six of her 10 points from beyond the arc.

Neither team eclipsed 45 percent shooting from the field for the game, due in large part to a tough first quarter in which Western New Mexico made only a quarter of their shots and the Lions shot at a 33 percent clip. A&M-Commerce out-rebounded the Mustangs 41-33, had six more assists (17-11) and three fewer turnovers (14-17).

The two teams missed every one of their 12 combined shots from the field in the first four minutes of the game before Mustang guard Cassandra Vickery scored a fast break layup to put her team ahead 3-2. The Lions adapted to their rough start by running in transition and taking the ball to the hoop for layups or to draw fouls. The Lions scored six points from layups, made only one jump shot, and tallied six points from the charity stripe to end the quarter ahead 14-9.

Despite scoring eight unanswered points to start, the second quarter brought more shooting troubles for the Lions, but Western New Mexico found a rhythm and shot nearly 50 percent from the field. After starting the quarter slowly, the Mustangs answered with 11 straight points to pull within two point’s mid-quarter. A&M-Commerce was able to hold on to the lead and end the half with a six-point, 30-24 advantage over the Mustangs.

The Lions were back to their usual selves to start the second half as they went on a 15-5 run during the first four minutes of the third quarter, during which they missed only two of their seven shots and made all four attempted free throws. In the latter half of the third quarter, Western New Mexico fought hard to keep themselves in the game but still found themselves in a double-digit hole as the Lions ended the frame ahead 54-44.

A&M-Commerce again came out of the break on a roll, scoring eight unanswered points from a pair of free throws by Princess Davis and back-to-back threes from Chania Wright and fellow guard Mykiel Burleson. The Lions’ held their 18-point lead as the teams traded blows until the final two minutes, when Western New Mexico scored five straight points in an effort that was too little, too late. A&M-Commerce was able to coast to the finish line and tally their 13-point victory.

The Lions move to 11-6 overall and 6-3 in Lone Star Conference competition. They return to play the second and final game of their home stint against the last-in-conference UT-Permian Basin Falcons at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The upcoming matchup marks the first meeting of the season for A&M-Commerce and the Falcons, but last year both games between the two were thrillers; A&M-Commerce won game one in 88-77 in overtime but lost game two 61-64. UT-Permian Basin is without a single win in nine Lone Star Conference contests this year, with their most recent loss coming at the hands of Tarleton State.