Trailing by double digits midway through the second half, Texas A&M University-Commerce used a fierce rally to pull even with A&M International in the final minute. But a Dustdevil lay-up as the clock struck triple zeros thwarted the comeback attempt as the Lions fell 81-79 in the 2013-14 home opener at the Field House.
The loss overshadowed what was a career night for senior Danielle Dixon. On the day before her 22nd birthday, Dixon tied a career high with 26 points, shooting 12-of-22 from the floor while pulling down six rebounds.
Senior Breanna Harris did what she normally does, recording a double-double on the night by scoring 15 points and pulling down 13 rebounds for the 29th double-double of her A&M-Commerce career. Senior Abigail Leaupepe-Tele added 10 points with four rebounds and a pair of assists.
Junior Devin Oliver and sophomore Symone Brown each recorded eight points on the night for A&M-Commerce with junior Ashlee Johnson and sophomore Aubree Butts each adding a pair of baskets. Oliver and freshman Alize Pegue led the Lions with four assists each.
Facing an A&M International team that was coming off a convincing 84-75 over 10th-ranked Midwestern State Tuesday night, head coach Nicole Anderson's team knew they would have a fight on their hands all evening. The Lions held their own in the early going, keeping within two possessions for the first 12 minutes of the game, trailing by three at 25-22 with 8:16 remaining.
But as they did against the Mustangs Tuesday, the Dustdevils put together an extended run in the closing minutes of the first half. A&M International used a 10-0 run to build a 13-point lead at 35-22, an advantage they would carry with them into the half, leading 46-33.
The Dustdevils extended that advantage to as many as 14 in the second half, leading 59-45 with 14:16 remaining. But with their backs against the wall, the Lions responded, slowly chipping away at the A&M International lead. Harris and Dixon led the charge as A&M-Commerce used a 21-10 run over the next six minutes, pulling to within three at 69-66.
A&M International was able to keep it a two possession game for the next three minutes until a pair of baskets by Johnson trimmed the Dustdevil lead to one at 76-75 with 3:12 remaining. After an A&M International free throw pushed the advantage back to two at 77-75, Harris hit a jumper in the paint to tie the game at 77-77, then she would do it again a minute later as A&M-Commerce pulled even at 79-79 with 31 seconds to go.
With control of the ball, A&M International put up the potential go-ahead shot with 10 seconds left, which bounced off the rim. But the Dustdevils pulled down the offensive board and with time running out, Samantha Chacon spun in for a layup and let the ball go just as time expired, giving A&M International the win as the ball fell through the net with the horn sounding.
A&M International improves to 2-1 all-time against A&M-Commerce in the limited series between the two schools. Malika Jackson led the way for the Dustdevils with 23 points while Chacon and Tina Dang each logged 19 points on the night for A&M International.
The Lions now have a week off before returning to the court, but the quest for the first victory of the season doesn't get any easier as A&M-Commerce travels to Division I opponent Sam Houston State on Friday, Nov. 22. Opening tip against the Bearkats will be at 11 a.m. as for the second-straight year, A&M-Commerce will serve as the opponent for Sam Houston State's elementary school day, where over 5,000 grade school children are expected to be on hand for the showdown.
A&M International 81, A&M-Commerce 79
The Field House • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (0-4); A&M International (2-0)
Up Next: at Sam Houston State • Friday, Nov. 22 • 11 a.m. • Huntsville, Texas