Lion MBB hold off Cameron 87-78

Tyler McDonough, Senior Sports Reporter

Srdan Budimir had a career night with 24 points in the win vs. Cameron | Ashley Tuppen

By Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team defeated Cameron University 87-78 on Thursday night on Greek Night at the Field House. The Lions and Aggies were very close for much of the night before the Lions pulled away at the end of the game.

The win brings the Lions to 17-5 on the season and 9-3 in the Lone Star Conference. The Aggies fall to 8-14 and 4-8 in conference play.

The Lions return to action on Saturday at 4 p.m. against MSU Texas. The game is the back half of the “Fill The Field House” doubleheader presented by the Enrollment Management Division. Admission to the game will be free of charge.

On the team’s three-point success: “We put multiple guys on the floor that can shoot the three. When they are open, that is how we want to play. To make 16 threes, that’s our high. We shot 31 threes and I thought 25 of them were really good shots. Then you live with the results of what doesn’t go in and what does.”
On the play of freshman Carson Tuttle: “He was really good for us. He was +18 and only sat out for about a minute or two. He was really good. He had just one turnover against six assists. He wasn’t forcing anything. That is key. He hasn’t played any differently than he has played, but when you play 38 minutes, that is when you are going to get shot attempts.”
On the play of Wayne Stewart: “He looked healthy. That is key. He was getting off the floor, had a couple dunks. He was on the offensive glass, using his length. Hopefully we can keep him healthy and get him to 100 percent. I think he is a lot closer than he has been all season. It’s exciting.”
On preparing for MSU Texas on Saturday: “They are a different matchup. If we take care of the glass like we did today, we will be in good shape. We have to take care of the glass and take care of the paint. They are a very physical team. They will get after us defensively. We have to take care of the ball and be ready to play.”

– Srdan Budimir (Karadjordjevo, Serbia) led all scorers with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He shot 6-of-7 from three-point range.
– Wayne Stewart (Philadelphia, Pa.) had a fantastic game with 21 points and also pulled down nine rebounds.
– Willie Rooks (Houston-North Forest) had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Carson Tuttle (Mukilteo, Wash) had 12 points and 6 assists. Tuttle also led the Lions in minutes with 38.
– The Lions shot an impressive 54 percent from the field and 52 percent from three-point range. Cameron shot 46 percent from the field and 48 percent from long distance.
– After a tie game at halftime, the Lions shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half to earn the victory.

Both teams went back and forth in the first few minutes of the game. With the score tied at 13, Cameron went on a 7-0 run to gain a lead. The Lions answered with  a run of their own to make the score 24-20 in favor of the hosts. Tuttle and Budimir connected on three consecutive three-pointers to put A&M-Commerce on top.

Both teams finished the half strong and went into the break tied at 34 apiece. Stewart provided a spark off the bench, scoring seven points and pulling down six boards in the opening period.

The Lions shot 44 percent in the first half on 11-of-25 shooting and shot 40 percent from three on 6-of-15 from behind the arc. Budimir led the Lions with eight first half points.

Rodney Brown (Beaumont – West Brook) got the crowd on their feet early in the second half with an alley-oop dunk to give the Lions an early 38-36 lead on the assist from Trey Conrod (Kilgore).  Conrod, Tuttle, and Budimir proceeded to hit three three-pointers to put the Lions up 47-38 going into the first media timeout of the half. Cameron hung in the game, cutting the lead to four with as little as seven minutes to play, but the Lions held their ground and did not allow the Aggies to get within two possessions.

A 10-4 Lion run in less than two minutes was sparked by a pair of Stewart three-pointers, and Rooks’ three-point play helped put the Lions ahead by double digits at 70-60 with just over five minutes to play.

Budimir electrified the crowd in the final minutes as he scored 11 points in the final five minutes including a trio of three-pointers. Budimir’s final three extended the Lions lead to 18 points at 85-67 with two minutes left. Cameron narrowed the deficit in the waning stages, but the Lions proved to be too much for their guests, earning the season sweep.