PHILADELPHIA – The Texas A&M University-Commerce men’s basketball scored the first basket on Friday night at Hagan Arena as the Lions picked up a 57-54 win over Saint Joseph’s in a game that was part of the Wildcat Challenge, presented by Kentucky Tourism.
The Lions have won two in a row and are now 2-4 on the season, handing the Hawks their first loss of the season, as they fall to 3-1 on the season. Coming into Friday, Saint Joseph’s was ranked No. 91 by KenPom, marking the highest ranked win for the Lions in the Division I era and a quad ‘B’ win.
“Tonight was a hard-fought win for our team in one of the toughest gyms to play in mid-major basketball,” said coach Jaret von Rosenberg. “I am so proud of our ability to score a big basket every time Saint Joe’s came within 3-4 to push the lead back up to two possessions. We still have work to do but are looking forward to getting home and playing the next few games in the Field House.”
The Lions started the game leading 10-2 through the first 3 minutes and 10 seconds. James “Pop” Weathers, who was inserted into the Lion starting lineup, started the game shooting 2 for 2 and scored five of the team’s first 10 points.
From the 16:50 mark of the first half till the 13:13 mark, both teams were held scoreless. The Hawks went on a 4-0 run to cut into the lead, but the Lions went on a 4-0 run of their own after being held scoreless for over four minutes to go back up by eight.
The Lions started the game shooting 5 for 10 from deep and had a 21-8 lead in the game, but the Hawks went on a 16-4 run to make it a one-point game. Saint Joseph’s tied the game at 27 with 3:06 left in the game. Kalen Williams (Augusta, Ga.) and Zondrick Garrett (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) tallied two jumpers to keep the Lions ahead.
Back-to-back jumpers by Alonzo Dodd (St. Paul, Minn.) pushed the Lion lead to 35-28 at the half. Williams scored nine in the first half.
With 11:51 to go in the second half, A&M-Commerce had a 46-36 lead, but the Hawks went on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit down to five. The Lions answered with a three-pointer by Tommie Lewis (Vero Beach, Fla.).
The Hawks held A&M-Commerce scoreless for the next six minutes, while chopping down the lead to 49-45, but Lewis knocked down another three pointer to push the lead to seven and then a dunk by Lewis just 40 seconds later, gave A&M-Commerce a 54-45 lead.
The Lions had an eight-point lead entering the final minute of the game, but a three pointer and two free throws brought the Hawks within 55-52 with 34 seconds left.
Lewis was fouled and he made one of two free throws. Saint Joseph’s following an offensive rebound, was fouled on the other end, and made both free throws to cut it to 56-54 with three seconds left. Lewis was once again fouled, and he went 1 for 2 once again. SJU was not able to get a shot off before the clock expired.
Both teams shot below 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from the field. The Lions shot 21 for 58 from the field and knocked down seven three pointers. Lewis led the way with 15 points, shooting 4 for 7 from the field, which included three shots from deep.
Dodd scored nine off the bench, while Jerome Brewer Jr. (Camden, N.J.) scored eight and grabbed team-best seven rebounds in his first collegiate game in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area. Weathers had team-high four assists.
The Hawks were led in scoring by Lynn Greer III, who scored 13.