The East Texan

Lion WBB to face Colorado Mesa in NCAA tournament after West Texas A&M semifinal loss

Jordan Ader, Staff Reporter

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Princess Davis became Lion Basketball’s all-time leader in minutes played during the quarterfinal against West Texas A&M. Photo Courtesy | Vladimir Cherry

Jordan Ader | Staff Reporter

Texas A&M-Commerce women’s basketball was eliminated from the Lone Star Conference tournament after a 58-44 loss in the semifinals to the No. 16 West Texas A&M Buffaloes at the Comerica Center on Saturday, March 9.

A&M-Commerce’s 20-win season, the third-most in program history, was good enough to be invited into the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament for just the second time in team history and the first in 12 years. They were selected as the seventh seed in the South Central region and will play the second-seed Colorado Mesa University Mavericks.

The Lions, who entered the tournament as the fifth seed, defeated the fourth-seed Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds 77-70 before losing to top team and eventual champion West Texas A&M.

In the quarterfinal against Eastern New Mexico, the Lions started on a 9-3 run and continued to build their lead as they ended the first quarter ahead by 12. In the second quarter, the Lions hot shooting continued as they widened the gap to 17 but broke even for the quarter as a late run by the Greyhounds sent A&M-Commerce into halftime ahead 42-30.

Both sides traded baskets through the third quarter until, with 2:31 left, the Lions put together an 11-2 run to head into the final frame ahead 59-42. In the fourth quarter, Eastern New Mexico opened with 12 unanswered points and twice brought their deficit down to just two points, but the Lions were able to weather the storm and come out on top to advance to the semifinal.

Lion guard Princess Davis, who was awarded Second Team All-Lone Star Conference honors for this season, led all scorers with 25 points and added four rebounds, three assists and one steal. Guard Alexus Jones scored 14 points in an extremely efficient shooting performance as she shot 71.4 percent overall and made four of her five shots from beyond the arc. Third Team All-LSC Guard Chania Wright added 13 points of her own while sinking five of her nine shots from the floor.

Forward Alexis Bryant set the tone on the boards with her game-leading 12 rebounds and added six points, two assists, one block and one steal. Guard Maddison Glass led the Lions with four assists, tied for the game-high with three steals, scored four points and grabbed three boards.

In the first quarter of their semifinal matchup versus West Texas A&M, the Lions started hot as they gained a seven-point lead by mid-quarter. They made half of their shots in the quarter, which ended with A&M-Commerce leading 16-13.

West Texas A&M tied the game early in the second, but the Lions responded by re-taking a seven-point advantage. The Buffs erased the gap and took their first lead of the game before entering halftime ahead 26-25.

West Texas A&M came back from the break firing on all cylinders as they shot 57 percent from the field and established a 10-point lead heading into the last 10 minutes. They cooled off in the final quarter but more than made up for it with stifling defense that held the Lions to under 20 percent shooting for the frame.

During the game, Davis passed former Lion men’s basketball player Jason Hall (1992-’96) for the most minutes played in school basketball history. She led the team with five assists and also tallied 11 points, four rebounds and one steal in her 122ndcareer game for the Lions, a new team record.

Bryant led the charge against the Buffs with by leading the team in points (12) and rebounds (6) while adding a steal and block to her totals. Jones and fellow guard Mykiel Burleson set the tone defensively; Jones’s two steals were a Lion-high and Burleson blocked a team-high two shots.

The Lions look ahead to their first-round matchup against Colorado Mesa in the NCAA Division II Tournament. West Texas A&M is the top team in the South Central region, but since both their women’s and men’s teams were selected as number-one seeds, Colorado Mesa will be host to the bottom half of the region’s bracket.

A&M-Commerce has never played the Mavericks, whose slower pace is much different than the Lions’ run-and-gun attack.

Against common opponents this season, the Lions are 3-1 and Colorado Mesa is 3-0. This year, A&M-Commerce averaged 74.5 points per game and allowed 64.1 points per game compared to the Mavericks 64.2 points scored and 50.9 points allowed per game. The Lions also pull in 7.5 more rebounds per game than Colorado Mesa.

Game time for the Lions’ tournament-opener is set for 7 p.m. CDT Friday, March 15 at Brownson Arena in Grand Junction, Colorado. Fans looking to catch the game can buy tickets at coloradomesa.universitytickets.com/w/default.aspx or listen to the Lion Sports network at KETR-FM 88.9 and KETR.org. More broadcast information will become known as the tournament draws closer.

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Lion WBB to face Colorado Mesa in NCAA tournament after West Texas A&M semifinal loss