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Lions Continue Strong Season with Sixth Straight Win

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JR Owens’ free throw gave the Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball team a nail-biting win over the West Texas A&M Buffaloes 76-75.

In what was a tightly contested game that saw the lead swing back and forth on multiple occasions, the Lions were able to hang tight and capture their sixth straight victory, as well as their fourth straight Lone Star Conference win.

The game saw another stellar performance from Darrel Williams, who led all Lions in scoring with 22 points, shooting 67 percent from the floor. Williams also led the team with 13 rebounds and five assists.

The Lions played a strong first half but went to the locker room down 43-39. Returning for the second half, the Lions caught fire and jumped out to a 47-43 lead then scrambled to a 73-63 lead, their largest of the contest.

The Lions seemed to begin to fade at that point by allowing nine straight points to cut the lead to one. Anthony Adams sought to right the sinking ship with a layup to bring the lead to three with just minutes left. Even after multiple turnovers by the Lions, the Buffaloes could not seem to capitalize until two successful free-throw attempts by WT’s David Chavlovich brought the lead to one point once again with just 21 seconds remaining.

After a missed Lions’ free throw on the next possession, Owens garnered an offensive rebound off of the missed free throw attempt, and was immediately fouled, allowing him to score what would be the game-winning point after converting his second free throw attempt.

WTAMU would not be denied, as they went for a layup on the next possession, which ended in a Lions foul and one made free throw, cutting the lead back to one. The Lions’ next inbound pass was inadvertently sent out of bounds after touching a Lion player, giving the Buffaloes one more shot to win with just four seconds on the clock.

WT’s Miles Gatewood tossed up a three-pointer after receiving the inbounds pass, but came up short, securing the Lions’ 76-75 win. The Lions shot 58 percent from the floor as a team, which marks their highest team percentage on the season.

Currently, the Lions are being led both offensively and defensively by the play of senior Darrell Williams. Williams is currently leading the team in points, averaging 18.3 points per game, as well as leading the team in rebounds, averaging 12.5 per game, and Williams is currently leading the conference in both categories. Williams has won two Lone Star Conference Offensive and Defensive player of the week honors. Not to be outdone, senior forward Ladon Carnegie is second on the team in points per game with a 16.3 average, which is also second in the conference, along with his .859 free throw shooting percentage.

The Lions are currently sitting in third place in the conference with a 4-1 conference record (15-3 overall). Tarleton State, who sits behind the Lions in fourth, as well as Midwestern State and Angelo State, perched in second and first place, respectively, are all nationally ranked in the top 25 polls.

A&M-Commerce has their work cut out for them, as the next four games will feature nationally ranked Tarleton, Midwestern, and Angelo, with a conference game against Cameron University as well. Tarleton and Midwestern will be coming to Commerce to face the Lions, while the Lions will be travelling to Cameron and Angelo State.

A&M-Commerce has not faced either Angelo State or Tarleton State this season, but garnered a resounding 86-53 win over Cameron, as well as a 61-57 loss to Midwestern State in their first meeting. This stretch of games is highly critical for the Lions in determining who will move to the top of the conference standings.

The Lions will be playing games solely within the Lone Star Conference for the remainder of the season, with the exception of a contest against the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology on Valentine’s Day.

The Lions next home game will be against the Tarleton State Texans, on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m. at the Field House.

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Lions Continue Strong Season with Sixth Straight Win