Semifinal foes Lions, Texans have a history
No. 4 A&M-Commerce (19-8, 7-7 LSC) vs No. 1 Tarleton State (25-2, 12-2 LSC)
Friday, March 7, 2014 • 8:30 p.m. • LSC Tournament Semifinals
Allen Event Center (6,225) • Allen, Texas
• The Lions pulled off a dramatic one-point comeback win in the first round of the Lone Star Conference Tournament on Thursday, earning a second-round date with top-seeded Tarleton State on Friday in the tournament semifinals.
THE LAST TIME OUT
• The A&M-Commerce Lions erased a five-point deficit in the game's final minute, getting a pair of foul shots from Kameron Price with 9.5 seconds to play to escape with a 74-73 win over Eastern New Mexico on Thursday in the opening round of the Lone Star Conference Tournament at the Allen Event Center. The Lions trailed 73-68 with just 50 seconds to play, but after a pair of free throws from Tyrie Wooten, Price came up with a steal and found Cameron Blue streaking to the basket for a bucket that cut the lead to just 73-72. Just eight seconds later, Price came up with another steal in the backcourt and worked his way to the foul line with 9.5 seconds to play, canning both shots to put the Lions ahead 74-73, its first lead since the 9:02 mark of the first half.
• Should the Lions get past the Texans, they would advance to the LSC Tournament final for the first time since 2008 to play the winner of No. 2 Midwestern State and No. 3 Angelo State; otherwise, they will await their fate on Selection Sunday for possible placement in an NCAA Regional.
• With its win on Thursday over Eastern New Mexico, the Lions snapped a six-game losing streak in the LSC Tournament and advanced past the first round for the first time since 2008.
• The Lions got just 14 combined points from its two all-conference selections - LaDon Carnegie and Devondrick Walker - on Thursday vs ENMU. It was the second-lowest scoring output by that duo this season, only topped by a nine-point combined effort at Cameron on January 15.
• The Lions had just two steals in the game vs the Greyhounds, but they both came when it mattered most - the game's final 30 seconds - to help push the Lions to victory. They have only had less than two steals in a game once this season Feb. 1 at Tarleton.
• Daniel Ehambe hit all three of his three-point buckets within a five-minute span of the second half as part of a 13-3 run that got the Lions back into the game. The three triples was a career high, and he finished with 11 points in helping the Lions to a 33-17 advantage in bench points.
Series vs. TSU: A&M-Commerce leads 30-29
The Lions hit seven foul shots in the final 90 seconds of the game, and held on to upset No. 2 Tarleton State, 79-76, on Saturday night at The Field House. The win gives the Lions its first four-game win streak to close out the regular season since the 2004-05 campaign, and snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Texans. It also secures the No. 4 overall seed in the upcoming Lone Star Conference Tournament for the Lions, who will open up the event against No. 5 Eastern New Mexico on Thursday, March 6 at 8:30 p.m. LaDon Carnegie was the go-to hand for A&M-Commerce throughout the night, going for 34 points and nine rebounds on the night. The junior hit 10 of his 17 field goal tries, and 10 of 12 from the foul line, including four of the Lions' 10 three-point buckets on the night.
A&M-Commerce snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Texans with its win on Saturday in Commerce, retating a 30-29 advantage in the all-time series. The Lions are 1-3 all-time vs Tarleton State in the LSC Tournament, with all meetings coming since 2003. It is the firs ttime they have met up with TSU in the tournament since 2010 when the Lions lost in overtime, 83-76. The only Lion win vs the Texans in the tournament came, 68-67, in 2005.
The Lions are now 25-31 all-time in the LSC Tournament, and will are making their 10th straight and overall 35th appearance in the event, the most in league history. A&M-Commerce has three previous tournament titles, but will be searching for its first since the 1997 season when they left Edmond, Okla., with an 89-85 win over Central Oklahoma in the final.
The latest South Central Regional rankings came out on Feb. 26 with A&M-Commerce ranked ninth among teams from the Lone Star, Rocky Mountain and Heartland conferences heading in to next week's LSC Tournament. A top-8 finish in the region would assure the Lions a trip to the regional tournament for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
WHO NEEDS FIELD GOALS?
It's not very often a team finds a way to win when going without a field goal for the game's final five minutes, but the Lions did just that on Saturday vs Tarleton State. After a jumper from Daniel Ehambe with 4:59 to go tied the game at 68-68, the Lions did not hit a shot from the field the rest of the way. Instead, they did their damage from the foul line, hitting 9-of-10 from the stripe as a team after hitting just 10-of-17 prior to that.
POP THE CLUTCH
The Lions have managed to pull out each of the past three games with free throws in the game's final seconds, including Thursday's game-winning foul shots from Kameron Price. In those three games, the Lions have successfully made 22 of 23 free throws in final five minutes of play.
SCORING WITH THE BEST
Points have not been hard to come by this season for the Lions, ranking second in the Lone Star Conference with an 81.6 per-game average. To date, that is tied for the second highest-scoring team head coach Sam Walker has ever had, just behind his 2006-07 team who averaged 81.9 points per contest. The Lions are gunning to be the first team to average over 82 points per game since the 1996-97 team who averaged 83.2 points per game under former head coach Paul Peak.
DEVONDRICK NEARING ELITE COMPANY
Devondrick Walker has stepped up his game in his senior season, hitting for double figures in 15 of the Lions' last 19 games, and averaged 16.4 points per game in league contests, good for fourth in the LSC. He is also currently 61 of 67 (91.0) from the foul stripe this year, but needs to average 2.5 makes per game to qualify for the national leaderboard. He is currently averaging just 2.25 makes per game. Mike Micarelli currently holds the single-season free throw percentage mark atA&M-Commerce of 93.5 percent set in 1983-84.
Should the Lions upset Tarleton again on Friday, it would push them to the 20-win plateau for the first time since the 2004-05 season and be the 16th 20-win campaign in the historyof the program.
WALL OF MACAULEY
In addition to his 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, A&M-Commerce big man Christian Macauley has been stellar as the Lions' last line of defense. The junior from Washington D.C. leads the Lone Star Conference and ranks in the top 10 nationally with 2.6 blocks per game, and has at least one block in every game this season for the Lions, with multiple blocks in 20 of A&M-Commerce's 26 games to date. Lee Johnson holds the single-season school record with 84 blocks (2.8 bpg), set in 1978-79.
WALKER ADDS TO WIN TOTAL
Head coach Sam Walker picked up his 225th career win with the Lions' 74-73 win over Eastern New Mexico. He is already the Lions' all-time winningest coach, and is second among current coaches in the Lone Star Conference, trailing only Tarleton State's Lonn Reisman's 555 victories.