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Lion women can’t close out Cameron, fall 75-69

Senior Guard Ashley Johnson with 7 points against Cameron.
Lion Athletics

Though Texas A&M-Commerce women's basketball (11-8; 5-4 in LSC) took an early lead which they maintained for much of the game, they couldn't shake late-surging Cameron (10-8; 7-2 in LSC), who handed the Lions a 75-69 loss at Aggie Gym.

The Lions spent over 31 minutes with the lead on Wednesday, but the game was always a close affair, with neither team leading by more than eight points at any point in the contest. With seven minutes to go, Cameron tied it up for the first time since the first half, and the lead would go back and forth for the next six minutes. With less than a minute left, the Aggies took a two-point lead resulting in the Lions resorting to strategic fouling. Alas, the Aggies hammered home all six of their free throw attempts in the final seconds, resulting in the final score not indicating the true razor-thin nature of the game.

"Down the stretch, their shooters made plays and came up with some big plays," said head coach Jason Burton, "We had some opportunities in the paint, but we didn't finish."

The first half was extremely tight-knit, with neither team shooting well (TAMUC 27%, CU 22.9%), as no player on either team managed to reach double-digit scoring. Kiana Evans was hampered by early foul trouble, leading to senior forward Abigail Leaupepe-Tele coming off the bench to a record eight rebounds at half. She would finish the game with an eight-point, 12 rebound, two-block performance. The Lions narrowly led 29-28 at the intermission.

Reigning LSC Defensive Player of the Week Ashlee Johnson gave the Lions a spark in all phases of the game, chipping in seven points, five rebounds, a steal and a game-high six assists.

La'Tisha Hearne had her best offensive night since mid-December, when the Lions visited San Marcos to play the Texas State Bobcats for their seventh game of the season. The senior forward put up 16 points on 6 of 7 from the line with eight boards. Freshman Artaejah Gay had yet-another efficient scoring outing with 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting, adding six rebounds.

"At this point in the year, we're going to get good effort from everybody. That's been pretty consistent all year long," said Burton, "We need to get back to some rebounding drills and dominate the paint like we're capable of doing."

Despite fielding the smaller roster, Cameron found success against the Lions on both the offensive and defensive glass, ending up with a 55-49 rebounding advantage. Cameron's three-best offensive threats suffered poor shooting performances, but that couldn't stop them from hitting double-digit scoring. The trio of Jazzmine Robinson, Brandi Leal and Jade Herl combined to go 30.4 percent (14 of 46) from the field, but still managed 22, 18 and 12 points respectively. Robinson and Leal also managed big games on the glass, with nine and eight boards a piece.

"They find ways to score," said Burton, "(Robinson) may not have shot the ball well from the field, but she found a way to get to the free throw line. And we didn't do that on the opposite end. She made big plays for them, and that's why she's one of the better players in this conference."

The Aggies will have only a moon's turn to get ready for their next game, as Texas Woman's comes to Cameron on Thursday.

The Lions will return to the Field House this Saturday to take on the second-place Midwestern State Mustangs (17-3; 8-2 in LSC). That game is scheduled for Saturday, February 7 at 4 p.m.