Lady Buffs Push Past Commerce to Kickstart Important Home Finale Weekend
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In an all-important season finale weekend at the First United Bank Center, the West Texas A&M picked up a crucial victory in their final home stretch of the season.
With four players finishing in double figures, the Lady Buffs routed A&M-Commerce 79-51, getting back in the win column after a heart-breaking loss on the road at Angelo State.
“It started from the offensive end,” WT women’s head coach Kristen Mattio said, who’s team improved to 21-7 and 14-5 in conference. “For us, we needed to take great shots, and we got it going. Obviously, we were scoring early and needed to take care of the basketball.”
Alie Decker led the charge with 17 points as she shot 50 percent from long distance. Junior center Madison Parker followed close behind, pitching in 15 points.
“I think we really were trying to get our inside presence going,” said Parker, who finished a perfect four-for-four from the field. “That was one thing, besides Lilley, that we didn’t have against Angelo. That was a big emphasis point this week in practice and then that got our outside shooters going at the same time.”
Maddison Wild recorded a double-double, finishing with 14 points and collecting 10 rebounds despite getting into foul trouble. Sasha Watson could not find a way to escape the fouls, as she finished with 13 points despite her fouling out in the midway stages of the fourth quarter.
“I think that being a senior, you have a sense of urgency,” Decker said, who led the team in scoring. “We have five of them [seniors] and it is spreading across the team about how important every game is from here on out.”
The Lady Buffs took off to a hot start, riding a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the game behind a Watson jumper, a Wild three-point attempt followed by a jumper in the paint and a Decker long-range jumper.
“I think that when the inside presence is going great, it opens up the perimeter for me,” said Decker.
With the offense rolling early, the defense then stepped up for continued dominance for WT.
The Lady Buff defense forced six turnovers in the final seven minutes of the game.
As the beneficial run came, A&M-Commerce attempted to claw their way back into the game.
The Lady Lions sunk back-to-back threes, courtesy of Krystal Pickron and Khala Riley to cut the once 16 point lead to a 12 point lead in a matter of a minutes.
With that spark offensively, A&M-Commerce contined to find a way back into the game.
The Lady Buff lead was cut to as close as nine points in the 5:13 mark in the second quarter due to turnovers. But WT found a way to respond with the A&M-Commerce spurt.
Sydney Walton netted a layup along with a easy jumper from Parker to extend the Lady Buff lead to 32-19 with 4:16 left in the first half.
As the first half concluded with a back-and-forth tussle between the two teams battling for positoning in the LSC women’s standings, the Lady Buffs started to pull away, mirroring their first quarter performance.
Decker drained a three while Watson picked up the easy deuce with the layup in the ensuing possession to extend the Lady Buff lead to 43-30 with 6:34 left in the quarter.
With another solid showing from the defensive end, more possessions were made for the Lady Buffs.
Decker continued her dominance from long range, sinking another three in the 4:34 mark. Watson then followed up with a three of her own, extending the Lady Buff lead to 53-34 with 3:56 left in the third. Watson eventually went on to score the next four points in the quarter with Decker tacking on another three for her effort.
As the Watson and Decker duo was showcased in the late stages of the third quarter, the low post duo of Parker and Wild were on the spotlight to start the fourth.
The two combined nine points in the first four minutes of the quarter that saw the Lady Buffs pull ahead to a comfortable 69-41 lead late. With converted free throws late, the Lady Buffs pulled away in what was an all-important game in the final week of regular season play.
“We felt like we knew Commerce inside and out,” Mattio said. Our kids stuck to the gameplan, executed it, and got the result we wanted.”