Mustangs hand Lions second loss of season
Despite LaDon Carnegie's 18 points in his return from a two-game absence, the Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions could not overcome a hot-shooting Midwestern State bunch in the second half, falling 84-73 in the Lone Star Conference opener for both teams at The Field House.
The Lions (11-2, 0-1 LSC), who were returning to action after a 17-day layoff through the Christmas break, put four players in double figures, with Carnegie hitting seven of his 10 shots from the field to lead the way with 18. Tyrie Wooten added 15, Devondrick Walker had 11 and Kameron Price had 10 points and three steals; however, the Mustangs (9-4, 1-0 LSC) had plenty of firepower of their own, led by DeJuan Plummer's 21-point outburst off the bench, a performance that included hitting five three-point buckets.
Monzaigo Williams had a double-double of his own for the Mustangs too, dishing out 10 assists to go with his 17 points. But it was the Midwestern State effort on the boards that proved to be the difference, owning a 52-27 advantage on the glass, marking just the third time this season the Lions had been edged on the boards. That effort included a 16-5 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to 38 points in the paint and a 16-2 margin in second-chance points.
A&M-Commerce stayed within arm's length of the Mustangs thanks to a 22-30 night at the foul line, and seven three-point buckets. But MSU hit 10 of its 24 long-distance tries and shot 55.2 percent in the second half, never trailing in the final period.
The Lions had the lead early on, erasing a quick 9-0 Mustang run with three-point buckets from Carnegie, Eddie Leal and Daniel West to go up 13-9; however, MSU responded with five straight points from Plummer and never surrendered the lead after the 13:29 mark of the first half. They hit 42.1 percent of their shots in the first half, led by 16 of Plummer's game-high 21 points, and pushed the lead to as much as 10 points with less than two minutes to go before taking a 41-33 lead into the break.
Carnegie, Walker and Wooten all had buckets early on in the second half, and a three-point play from Price got the Lions back to within a point at 46-45, less than four minutes into the second half.
But Williams then sparked a quick 8-2 Mustang run to give MSU some breathing room. From there they managed to keep the Lions at arm's length, leading by as much as 13 points before the Lions made one last run at them. A three-pointer from Walker was followed by a driving layup from Cameron Blue, and points from Wooten and Carnegie to cut the lead back to 70-66 with 4:30 to go.
But once again the Mustangs had the answer in Williams, who killed the rally with a bucket to start a 12-2 MSU spurt over the next four minutes to put the game away.
The Lions will go in search of its first conference win again on Wednesday when they host A&M-Kingsville at The Field House. Tip time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.