Davis becomes Lions’ third-highest scorer in 62-55 victory over Eastern New Mexico

Jordan Ader, Sports Reporter

Princess Davis puts on the clamps vs. ENMU | Joseph Miller

By Jordan Ader | Sports Reporter

Texas A&M University-Commerce senior guard Princess Davis became the third-highest scorer in program history as the Lions defeated the Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds 62-55 at home on Thursday, Feb. 21.

Davis entered Thursday’s game 18 points away from passing Artaejah Gay’s 1,282 career points for third place. She scored 20 points to reach 1,284 points and added four rebounds, four assists and a steal to her stat line.

Lion forward Ekaterina Zhibareva and guard Chania Wright also scored in double-figures, with 11 and 10 points respectively. Forwards Agang Tac and Alexis Bryant led A&M-Commerce in rebounding with nine rebounds each. Five Lions had one steal, and four had one block.

Both teams played with intensity on defense; the Lions forced 17 turnovers while Eastern New Mexico (18-7, 13-4) forced 14. A&M-Commerce shut down the Greyhounds in the fourth quarter, holding them to under 25 percent overall and one for seven from deep.

“We played one of our best defensive games of the year tonight,” Lion head coach Jason Burton said of his team’s efforts on the defensive end.

“The closer we get to the conference tournament, the less fouls are going to be called. Players have to make plays, you have to play defense and we did a good job of that today,” Burton said.

After seven misses between both teams to start the first quarter, Zhibareva finally opened the scoring with a 10-foot baseline jumper. Both sides traded shots for the entire quarter, which Eastern New Mexico ended with a tip-in as the clock reached all zeros. It was close, but the referees confirmed the basket with replay review and A&M-Commerce went into the second quarter leading 13-12.

Wright got the Lions started early in the second with a jumper in the lane, but the Greyhounds responded immediately to pull within one again. The two squads then battled back and forth with scoring runs, the largest of which was Eastern New Mexico’s nine unanswered points near the midway point of the quarter. Although they still trailed 26-25 at the end of the half, the Greyhounds again scored a last-second shot, this time off a clean jumper from the right post.

By halftime, Davis had grabbed two rebounds and led all scorers with 11 points. Bryant led A&M-Commerce with seven rebounds, and five Lions tied for the team-high with one assist each.

The Lion bench cheers after defeating the Greyhounds | Joseph Miller

In the first half, the Lions only made one-third of their shots, less than 10 percent of their threes, and only one of their four free throws. Chalk that up to a highly defensive half by both teams; Eastern New Mexico didn’t do much better offensively, and both competitors forced more than five turnovers.

The Lions answered the Greyhounds’ basket to open the second half with quick back-to-back scores in the paint. After the next Eastern New Mexico bucket, the Lions caught fire as they hit three shots from beyond the arc during an 18-8 run to head into the final frame ahead 48-38.

With a 10-point lead and only 10 minutes to play, the Lions fought hard to defend their advantage. Eastern New Mexico twice brought the gap down to just six points, but the Lions held on late thanks to their defense, a three by Wright, and Davis’s free throw shooting.

Eastern New Mexico was one of three teams tied for first place in the Lone Star Conference. With their win, A&M-Commerce moved to 17-8 overall and 12-5 in conference competition and lifted themselves to sole possession of fourth place in the Lone Star Conference.

With three games left, No. 17 West Texas A&M (22-3, 14-3) and No. 23 Angelo State (19-4, 14-3) are at the top of the standings. Third-place Eastern New Mexico is one game ahead of the Lions, who have fifth-place Tarleton State (18-7, 11-6) breathing down their necks.

The Lions return for their final home game to face-off against West Texas A&M during Senior Night. Last time the two teams played, A&M-Commerce cut their 23-point fourth quarter deficit in half, but their comeback came up short as they lost 70-81.

It won’t come easy, but a win could put the Lions in position to overtake third place by the end of the season, as their only remaining games will be against Western New Mexico (9-15, 5-12) and UT-Permian Basin (4-21, 1-16). In contrast, Eastern New Mexico finishes their season on a three-game road trip which includes matchups with Tarleton State and West Texas A&M so the Greyhounds could add at least one more loss to their record.

Game time is set at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the A&M-Commerce Field House. Fans looking to catch the game can watch the Lion Athletics webcast or listen to it on 88.9 KETR and at www.ketr.org, the Lion Sports Network.