Texas A&M University-Commerce outshot Henderson State from the two and three-point range, but the Lady Reddies made 22-of-26 their free throws in order to get past the Lions and hand A&M-Commerce their seventh straight loss to open the 2013-14 season.
The Lion defense held the Henderson State offense to just one field goal over the last 4:30 but the offense could not come up with the necessary baskets to reward the defensive effort. This overshadowed the offense that had one of its best games of the season with highs in field goal percentage, three-point field percentage and three-pointers made.
Abigail Leaupepe-Tele led the way for the Lions with 20 points on 10-of-15 from the floor. The 20 points ties a career high that the senior set against St. Edward's earlier this season. Leaupepe-Tele also had five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Breanna Harris and Devin Oliver had 17 each with Harris adding eight rebounds on the night.
Ashlee Johnson ran the point well with six assists along with four points, three rebounds and a steal. Danielle Dixon did not have good shooting night (1-of-6, three points) but did grab four rebounds and swiped five steals.
The two sides traded baskets to open the game and found themselves tied at 11 after the first six minutes. Then Henderson State made an 11-0 run to take a 22-11 lead with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half. A&M-Commerce then started to battle back and slowly chipped away at the lead. A three from Oliver cut the lead to five, 27-22, with 5:52 left to play. Oliver then tied the score with two free throws after Shanekqua Bibbs hit one of her two threes. The 13-0 run was capped with Bibbs' other three-pointer to give the Lions a 32-28 lead with 3:23 remaining in the first half. The Lions did not trail in the half from that point on and held a 40-35 advantage heading into the break.
In the opening minutes of the second the Lion offense began to hit a rut and was held to just two points in the first seven minutes. Henderson State would take a five-point lead thanks to seven straight points from Aungelique Sledge, 48-43.
The Lions would tie the score up quickly after a jumper from Leaupepe-Tele at 48. The two sides would trade leads for the next of couple minutes before Krystal Beachum gave the Lady Reddies a four point lead after back-to-back layups with 6:41 left to play at 64-60.
The next seven points for Henderson State would come from the free throw line as the Lions kept getting deeper and deeper into the bonus. Three free throws from Beachum gave the Reddies an eight point advantage, 74-66, with under three to play.
A Harris lay-up capped a five nothing run and would get the Lions back within a bucket. With 57 seconds to go, with the score 76-74. The Lion defense got a stop, then called a timeout after Johnson grabbed the defensive board. On the ensuing possession the Lions would lose the ball out of bounds off a missed layup from Harris.
Three more free throws from the Lady Reddies would seal the win for the visitors and improve their record to 6-2 on the season. Henderson State was led by Sledge with her game-high 30 points and Beachum added 21 in the winning effort.
The Lions face a quick turnaround when Ouachita Baptist comes to The Field House on Thursday. A&M-Commerce will look to avoid their longest stretch to start a season without a win under coach Nicole Anderson when the Tigers come to town.