FRISCO - The old adage of “it’s not how you start but how you finish” was on display once again in the LSC Men’s Basketball Championship quarterfinal round.
No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Commerce fell behind 11-0 Thursday to No. 7 UT Permian Basin, but managed to not only get back in the game, but used some hot 3-point shooting to eventually run past the Falcons for a 90-80 win.
The second half had eight ties and 10 lead changes and it appeared it would go down to the wire. But with five minutes to play, the Lions led 69-67, but used a 17-5 run, highlighted by back-to-back dunks by Trey Conrad and Deonta Terrell to close the door on the Falcons.
Five players finished in double figure scoring for the Lions, led by Conrad’s 19 points. Reggie Reid, a second-team All-LSC pick, scored 16, while Austin Grandstaff came off the bench with 15 points and Terrell had 12. Rodney Brown had seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.
As a team, A&M-C found its rhythm beyond the arc after hitting just 3 of 18 shots from 3-point land in the first half. But in the final 20 minutes, the Lions were 6 of 12, including three from Grandstaff.
A&M-Commerce also benefitted at the foul line, making 17 of 19 from the stripe.
The Lions (22-7) will play No. 3 seed Angelo State Saturday in the semifinals here at Comerica Center at 12 p.m.. The season comes to an end for the Falcons, who found themselves in the LSC Championship final in their first two seasons as conference members, including a 2017 title. UTPB, which split the season series with Commerce this year, finishes the season at 14-15.
Jacob Ledoux, a first-time All-LSC selection and 2019 Newcomer of the Year, led UTPB with 21 points. Miles Washington added 16 points, while Adam Rivera scored 14.
Eventually, the Falcons were overmatched inside, getting outrebounded 39-31. They also had eight shots blocked by the Lions, including four from Brown.
Texas A&M-Commerce Notes:
• The Lions improve to 31-35 all-time in LSC Championship play. The 31 victories rank second in the conference history, behind West Texas A&M, which entered the tournament with 35 wins.
• The Lions are seeking their first LSC Championship title since 2015, when they won three games as the No. 4 seed and cut down the nets in Allen, Texas for the fourth time in school history.
• The Lions led 69-67 at the 5:00 mark and eventually pulled away with a 17-5 run. That makes the Lions 38-0 under head coach Jaret von Rosenberg when they have a lead with five minutes to play.
• Willie Rooks, who was named first-team All-LSC earlier this week, logged over 39 minutes of action. However his six points scored was his lowest total since Dec. 30 and only the fourth time he didn’t reach double figures.
• Grandstaff, who had 11 points in the regular-season finale against Western New Mexico, reached double figures in consecutive games for the first time all year and nearly matched his season high of 16 points he scored on Nov. 16 against Colorado-Mesa.
• Brown tied his season-high with four blocks (Dec. 6 vs. Dallas Baptist).
• The Lions made 89.5 percent of their free throw attempts (17 of 19), the second-highest percentage of the season, only behind the 90.5 percent (19 of 21) outing against West Texas A&M in January.
UT Permian Basin Notes:
• As new members to the LSC in 2017, UTPB won its first five LSC Championship games, including the 2017 title and a run to the finals in 2018. However, the Falcons have now lost two straight games in tournament play.
• The Falcons are now 5-2 all-time in LSC Championship play, barely dropping to second place in tournament winning percentage at .714, just behind Midwestern State (28-11) at .718.
• Junior guard Isaiah Hammons, who became the sixth player in school history to surpass 100 assists in a season, had five more on Thursday, finishing the season with 110.
• Ledoux finished the season as the LSC’s leading scorer at 18.1 ppg and only added to that, scoring 21. That was the 11th game of the season Ledoux surpassed 20 points.
• UTPB fell to 3-5 this year when allowing at least 90 points. One of those games was a 102-92 win over the Lions on Feb. 28.
• The Falcons were credited with only one steal, the lowest single-game output of the season, after averaging 7.3 steals per game (fourth in the LSC).