WICHITA FALLS – Texas A&M-Commerce overcame a sloppy first half and a one-point halftime deficit by shooting 54.1 percent in the second half en route to a 78-64 Lone Star Conference victory on the road over MSU Texas in front of 675 fans Thursday night.
“We knew they were going to be ready,” Texas A&M-Commerce head coach Jaret Von Rosenberg said. “I was an assistant in this league and before I got the head coaching job and I knew how hard it was going to be every time we came here. They play physical and aggressive at the point of attack.”
The Lions entered the contest with five players averaging double figures in points per game and that balance was on display as Willie Rooks led all scorers with 20 points while Tyree Robinson added 19 points, Deonta Terrell contributed 14 points, and Reggie Reid orchestrated the offense with 11 points and seven assists.
Von Rosenberg discussed the nice balance his team enjoys.
“You try to get that (balance) through the recruiting process and I give a lot of credit to our returners who have let the new guys come in when they (the returning players) had already solidified themselves. Essentially, they (the new players) are taking shots away from them, but I think they (returning players) understand that’s how you win,” said Von Rosenberg.
Haggerty talked about the difficulty in playing a balanced team.
“You want all five guys on the floor that can score,” MSU Texas head coach Nelson Haggerty said. “I think the best teams are the teams that don’t just have one big scorer. They have multiple guys on the floor that can have big nights.”
Josh Wallace led three Mustangs in double figures as he scored 18 points while Bishop Coulter added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Gilbert Thomas contributed 10 points for a Mustangs team that struggled to make buckets as they shot 36.6 percent from the floor for the game.
“Josh (Wallace) had a great game,” Haggerty said. “He was playing well before the end of the semester. He was consistently 17, 18 points a game. He’s making good decisions and not hunting (shots).”
“We played a good first half. I thought in the second half that we didn’t do a good job keeping them out of the paint,” Haggerty said. “They have good one-on-one players and when their stuff breaks down, they’re just going to try to make a one-on-one play. They’re good players and they can score from a lot of positions on the floor.
Texas A&M-Commerce was trailing at halftime due to sloppy play. The Lions committed 11 turnovers in the first half and only four assists. They turned both of those numbers around in the second half as they only committed three turnovers and had 11 assists.
“The things we talked about (before the game) to give ourselves a chance to win on the road was taking care of the glass and we had to limit our turnovers,” Von Rosenberg said. In the first half, we didn’t do that and that’s why we were down at halftime. Give our guys a lot of credit. It was a physical game and they just kept battling. They were able to string together stops and get a couple buckets together in the second half.”
Lone Star Conference play is known to test a team physically as each team plays a tough brand of basketball. This season is no different as Texas A&M-Commerce prepares to travel to Lawton, Okla. for a Saturday afternoon contest against Cameron.
“(Cameron) is a tough place to play,” Von Rosenberg said. Luckily, we got to play there this year for our conference challenge so there is no shock of the gym. They (Cameron) are so good at home. They are scrappy and tough, and they’ve been like that for the last 10 years.”
MSU Texas will have to rebound from this loss quickly as they host rival Tarleton State on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“We can still do everything that we want to do if we’re able to get on a run. We got to make sure that we’re ready to go (Saturday),” said Haggerty.
Cory Hogue is Dave Campbell's Texas Basketball small college correspondent follow him on Twitter at @HoagieSports and be sure to visit his website (linked below) for more coverage of Division II and Division III collegiate athletics.