A 17-2 run spanning the end of the first half and the start of the second spelled doom for Midwestern State in a 74-66 loss to Texas A&M-Commerce here Wednesday night.
"This is the first time we didn't come out and play with the activity level we need to make plays in the second half," MSU coach Nelson Haggerty said. "They really outworked us. We just keep putting ourselves in some difficult positions."
The loss snapped at four-game winning streak for the Mustangs who fell to 10-4 on the season and to 6-1 in Lone Star Conference play. It was the first loss against the Lions since the 2004-05 season -- a span of 10 games.
"It's going to be rugged. It's going to physical. That's just the way our league is," Haggerty said. "We didn't keep our composure and we just turned the ball over too much. As hard as we are rebounding and the way we competing, we just can't do that. We gave up four points off of technical fouls. We just can't afford to do that."
The Mustangs led by as many as 12 points in the opening half and held a 32-25 on a Jeff Grayer put back with 3:54 remaining in the opening half.
Aided by a 13-5 edge in foul count, 17-6 advantage in free throw attempts and a critical technical foul after Keith Spellman was whistled for a player control foul in the final minute, the Lions were able to whittle the MSU advantage to 34-33 at the break.
Preston Whittley and Stefon Carson banged in 3-pointers as Texas A&M-Commerce scored the first 10 points of the second half to take a 43-34 lead almost four minutes into the stanza.
Whittley connected on four 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 28 points to provide the difference for the Lions, who improved to 10-5 on the season and to 3-2 in LSC play.
Junior guard Monzaigo Williams bombed in a pair of 3-pointers and tallied eight of his season-high 22 points to spur a 10-4 run as the Mustangs rallied to tie the game at 48-all with 12:13 to play.
MSU was able to tie the game on two more occasions, but could never overtake the Lions. A&M-Commerce scored four points off of the Mustangs' second technical foul of the night after a Corbin Thomas dunk that tied the game at 56-56 with 7:33 to play. Thomas, who was pushed after the play, was whistled for the technical foul for yelling during the dunk.
Jason Smith hit a runner of the lane after Whittley converted the technical free throws as the Lions took control of the game.
Thomas notched his fifth double-double of the season with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
"Corbin is tough and is the key to this basketball team and he is able to make those easy baskets," Haggerty said. "As tough as he is, he just never quits. The way he plays and competes down low is what makes us so tough."
Junior guard Cam Adderley pitched in 15 points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs.
Midwestern State hosts rival Tarleton State Saturday night at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. The Texans fell to Cameron 69-62 Wednesday night in Stephenville.
Lisa Hampton drained five 3-pointers to net a career-high 16 points to lead Midwestern State to a 54-41 win over Texas A&M-Commerce Wednesday night at the A&M-Commerce Fieldhouse.
It was the third straight win for the Mustangs, who improved to 10-3 on the season and to 5-2 in Lone Star Conference play.
"This ends our five-game road swing and it's nice to get this one," MSU coach Noel Johnson said. "I'm proud of the kids and how they were fired up to play this one tonight."
Midwestern State plays host to rival Tarleton State Saturday afternoon at D.L. Ligon Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m.
Hampton banged in three treys during a decisive 17-3 run midway through the first half in a very physical battle as both teams struggled from the field.
"Lisa had a great game," Johnson said. "This was the game for her to shine and that's what she did."
The Mustangs dominated the glass in the opening half and led by as many as 17 points when Dianna Jones knocked down a 3-pointer to give MSU a 30-13 edge with 2:51 to play in the opening half.
"We wanted to have a game of one-shot possessions for them," Johnson said. We had a lot of those early on, but we got a little lackadaisical with the way we blocked them out in the second half."
The Lions (5-6, 3-3) rode strong inside play of 5-11 junior Breanna Harris and 6-5 junior Amber Carver to control the glass in the second half as the Lions crept as 13 points late in the contest.
"Breanna Harris is someone you have to contend with," Johnson said. "They are a physical team and really get to the boards. We were fortunate they weren't able to work for too many second-chance points."
Both delivered double doubles as Harris notched 13 points and 19 rebounds while Carver added 14 points and 11 boards, but A&M-Commerce was only able to squeeze eight second-chance points out of 25 offensive rebounds.
MSU senior guard Kirsti Degelia delivered a strong all-around effort with nine points, eight rebounds and five steals while Dianna Jones pitched in nine points and seven rebounds.