TWU put up 30 points in the fourth quarter and outscored Texas A&M-Commerce by eight in the final 10 minutes, but the Pioneers were unable to overcome a slow start in an 80-73 loss Saturday at Kitty Magee Arena.
KJ Stastny recorded a game-high 23 points for TWU (6-7, 3-4 Lone Star) while Alexis Nezianya added 17 and Bri'anna Gray had 14. The Pioneers were outrebounded 50-34 by the Lions (10-5, 6-1).
Commerce led by as much as 20 in the second quarter, but TWU got within four in the fourth from a 16-point deficit. A 3-pointer by Desiree Phipps and two free throws by Gray pulled the Pioneers within 63-52 with just under seven minutes to go. Stastny drilled a pull-up 3, Gray hit another pair of free throws and Apari completed a drive with under a minute to go to make it a two-possession game at 71-65.
With 24 seconds remaining, TWU coach Beth Jillson called a timeout and drew up a successful play from the sideline that had Stastny hitting a deep 3 to cut the deficit to 76-72 with 24 seconds left. The Lions made a pair of free throws, but Stastny produced a scoop shot in the lane while being fouled to keep it a four-point game with 16 left. Commerce converted four free throws down the stretch to hold on.
Stastny kick-started her scoring seven seconds into the game with a long 2 from the left baseline and completed a baseline drive on the next possession for a 4-2 TWU edge. The Lions went on a 20-5 run to close the first quarter with a 22-13 lead.
Commerce continued its barrage in the second quarter by opening with a 13-2 run for its largest lead at 35-15. A trio of free throws and a spin move in the paint by Nezianya pulled the Pioneers to within 40-29 at the break.
Nezianya hit a layup to begin the second half before the Lions pulled ahead 48-35. Nezianya scored in the lane midway through the third, but the Pioneers were unable to record another field goal in the quarter.
The Pioneers head to Midwestern State at 6 p.m. Thursday.