Lion MBB win big at home versus MSU-Texas

Tyler McDonough, Sports Editor

Srdan Budimir fires the three after a big weekend versus Cameron and MSU-Texas | Ashley Tuppen

By Tyler McDonough | Sports Editor

COMMERCE – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team defeated MSU-Texas 89-63 on Saturday afternoon on at the Field House. The Lions dominated in the first half with a high shooting percentage and cruised to victory.

The win brings the Lions to 18-5 on the season and 10-3 in the Lone Star Conference. The Mustangs fall to 6-17 and 2-11 in conference play. The crowd of 1,431 cheered on the Lions as part of “Fill The Field House” presented by the Enrollment Management Division.

The Lions return to action on Thursday at 7 p.m. They will face Tarleton at Wisdom Gym in Stephenville.

– Trey Conrod (Kilgore) led all scorers with a season-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He also shot 4-of-5 from three-point range.
– Willie Rooks (Houston – North Forest) had a solid game scoring 16 points while dishing out five assists and pulling down eight boards.
– Deonta Terrell (Chicago, Ill.) also had 16 points and pulled down three rebounds. Srdan Budimir (Karadjordjevo, Serbia) and Rodney Brown (Beaumont – West Brook) also scored 11 points each.
– The Lions shot an impressive 48 percent from the field and 37 percent from three-point range. A&M-Commerce shot 66 percent in the first half. The Lions assisted on 23 of their 30 made baskets in the game.
– The Lions outscored the Mustangs 36-26 in the paint and also outscored MSU 23-8 on points off turnovers.
– The Lions led by as many as 29 in the game and never trailed.

On the teams play in the paint: “The key was we were able to control the paint in that first half. They didn’t have an offensive rebound until about three minutes left in the half. That’s where they can really hurt you. Our guys really listened and did a really nice job in that first half.”
On the play of Clarence Evans as a starter: “Cal did an unbelievable job. He did exactly what he needed to do. He took care of the basketball, took care of the basketball and had a couple rebounds. He was looking to play the role we had him play and did an unbelievable job. You have to be ready when your number is called and he definitely was.
On the team’s high assist total: “We had three guys with five assists and one guy with four. That is just unbelievable. We had 15 assists in the first half. This group is just playing really unselfishly right now. They are feeling the right opportunity of whether to take theirs or one more pass, like we talk about. We are sharing the basketball at a very nice pace right now and that’s allowing guys to have confidence. We can do a lot of things offensively when the team buys into doing that.”

The Lions started the game off strong, jumping out to an early 24-9 lead after all five starters got in on the action. Rooks and Conrod were very efficient along with a very active Terrell. The Lion defense swarmed the Mustangs in the opening stanza, with the Lions scoring 16 points off turnovers.

The Lions dominated the entire first half, scoring at will and would lead as many as 28 points in the opening period. A very poised Carson Tuttle (Mukilteo, Wash.) and Clarence Evans (Austin – Aggieland) directed the Lion offense and the Lions went into the break leading 52-26.

The Lions shot 66 percent in the first half on 19-of-29 shooting and shot 55 percent from three on 6-of-11 from behind the arc. Conrod and Rooks each led the Lions with 13 points. The Lion defense kept the Mustangs in check, allowing MSU to shoot just 29 percent from the field and 18 percent from three.

MSU cut the Lion lead to 17 points midway through the half, but that was as close as the Mustangs would get. The Lions went on a 7-0 run to get the lead back to 27 after Conrod knocked down a three. Conrod continued to be effective in the low post, crashing the boards and causing problems for the Mustangs.

With the lead at 27 all the Lions needed to do was cruise home. Evans, who made his first start of the season, came in for relief for Tuttle again late in the matchup. Evans got everyone involved and Terrell finished things off for the Lions after a flashy dime from Evans, draining the Lions’ final basket of the contest.