Heart. It’s exactly what the Texas A&M University-Commerce needed to win over the West Texas A&M Buffaloes Saturday in Golden, CO at the South Central Regional Quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship. Despite falling to the Buffs 97-86, the Lions showed heart throughout a hard-fought game.
Senior guard Malik Albert lead his team all season and left it all on the court Saturday. “I came out flat, Coach Walker just told me at halftime they’re going to lean on me to keep being aggressive and that’s what I did,” said Albert. Knowing it could be his last game he played like a madman leading the Lions with 33 points and 10 rebounds. He had heart.
When talking about his seniors, Coach Walker said, “I’ve been extremely impressed with our senior leadership, and really impressed with the sacrifice they have for each other.”
The Lions had to fight on every possession given the Buffs unwillingness to let up on the lead. First five minutes of the second half the Lions brought the Buffs lead down to 6 points. The closest the Lions got to the Buffs was in the second half when they were down 5 points; at one point trailed by 19 points. They continued to show heart.
Sure there was more the Lions could’ve done to secure a victory. Rebound more, they were out rebounded 44-36. Shoot their free throws, they struggled from the line during the first half shooting 45% FT. The Lions end their season with a record of 19-11 after the program's sixth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The second half resurgence by the Lions wasn’t enough despite their valiant effort from a team that fought all season to be at the big dance in March. Through it all they showed heart.