Commerce, TX –
The Texas A&M University-Commerce women's basketball team did not qualify for the NCAA South Central regional tournament. Three other Lone Star Conference women's teams made it. They are West Texas, which will be hosting, Central Oklahoma, and Angelo State. Men's teams from the Lone Star Conference in the NCAA South Central regional include host Tarleton, Central Oklahoma, and West Texas.
CLICK ON THE mp3 icon TO HEAR THE POSTGAME COMMENTS OF A&M-COMMERCE MEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH SAM WALKER:
Thanks to Danny Kambel, Sports Information Director at Texas A&M University-Commerce, for the following recap of the Lions performance Saturday night in men's championship game of the Lone Star Conference tournament:
The Cinderella-like run by Texas A&M University-Commerce to the championship game of the 2008 Lone Star Conference men's basketball tournament ended in disappointment with a 72-70 loss to Central Oklahoma on Saturday night.
The Bronchos outlasted the Lions down the stretch, hitting key free throws and clutch baskets to win a game that had 11 ties and 15 lead changes.
A&M-Commerce (14-16), the fourth-seed in the LSC North, began its tournament run on Wednesday by upsetting West Texas A&M, the No. 1 seed in the South before outlasting Abilene Christian Friday night.
Central Oklahoma (25-5) senior Sam Belt was named the LSC Tournament's Most Valuable Player, scoring 33, 26 and 25 points in the three games. He grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out five assists to lead the Bronchos to their fourth LSC Tournament title. John Neal added 16 points for UCO while Lance Harper scored eight and earned a selection on the LSC all-tournament team.
The Lions were represented on the all-tournament team in Scooby Johnson, who had a team-high 21 points and Kevin Widemond, who scored 17.
Leading by just one at halftime, UCO and A&M-Commerce went back and forth in the second half. The Bronchos grabbed a 55-49 lead with 9:58 to play.
Just when it looked as if A&M-Commerce would run out of gas, the Lions clawed back as senior Lance Jackson scored six points to spark an 8-0 run that gave A&M-Commerce a 57-56 lead with 6:33 remaining.
A three-point play by Johnson with 4:53 to go gave the Lions a three-point lead but Belt quickly answered with his own 3-pointer.
The Lions answered with a 3-pointner by Leonard Bishop, but after two free throws by Harper, Eric Cazenave gave the Bronchos the lead with a 3-pointer from the right corner.
Neal added a lay up and two free throws to push the lead to five with 24 seconds left, but turned the ball over after a Johnson lay up, giving A&M-Commerce another possession, trailing by three with 11 seconds on the clock.
After an A&M-Commerce turnover, David Thomas hit a free throw for UCO and lay up by Widemond with two seconds was not enough, preserving the win for the Bronchos.
In the opening stanza, A&M-Commerce came out hot, hitting their first four shots and eventually built a 17-10 lead with 13:32 left in the half on Johnson's jumper from the free-throw line.
UCO quickly answered with a 3-pointer by Belt, a jumper by Lance Harper and then a dunk and a free throw by Cazenave to cap an 8-0 run, giving the Bronchos the lead.
Both teams traded baskets and the lead for the remainder of the second half. Neal hit two 3-pointers to push the Bronchos up by five at one point. Johnson and Widemond each hit baskets to keep the Lions close, trialing at the half by only one.