The clock ran out on a strong Cameron University rally Saturday, allowing Texas A&M-Kingsville to fight off the Ags and capture a 92-85 Lone Star Conference men’s basketball victory in the CU gym.
Cameron’s trapping pressure defense steadily cut into a dominating 24-point Kingsville lead, reducing the margin to 83-77 with 1:22 to play.
The veteran Texas squad made sure the Ags didn’t get any closer by converting 9 of 10 free throws in those final 82 seconds.
The Javs improve to 16-5 on the year and to 12-3 in Lone Star play. Cameron falls to 6-14 and 5-9.
Kingsville hit the Ags with a balanced attack as 5 players scored in double figures and another just missed. The Javs also hit a solid 46.7 percent from the field, bolstered by an 11 of 22 performance from 3-point range.
Cameron couldn’t match those numbers, hitting 43.1 from the floor and 12 of 27 treys. But Andrew Brown’s squad was at its best in the second half, drilling 50 percent from the field and 10 of 15 treys.
Both clubs were hot from the free throw line, A&M hitting 25 of 30 and the Ags 17 of 20.
Senior guard John Mouton, one of 11 transfers on the Kingsville roster, led the balanced scoring with 19 points. Junior guard Tre Flowers was next with 15 – Mouton had 13 and Flowers 10 in the second half.
Cameron got a strong 1-2 punch from guards Brock Schreiner and Darius Green. The 6-0 Schreiner scored 14 of his 22 points after intermission while the 6-3 Green had all but 2 of his career-best 20 down the stretch.
Brown liked the fight in his team, but pointed to an old problem.
“We didn’t really do anything, game-plan wise that we were planning to do, so we ended up having to chase the whole second half,” he said.
“We started out the second half, we just wanted to cut into the lead a little bit, not get away from what we were doing, but we weren’t able to do that because we weren’t cutting into the lead.
“We substituted some guys, tried to pick up the energy level a little bit, pick up the intensity a little bit, and we for the most part did that.
That’s just not really a formula for success.
“I am proud that we didn’t really give in and just let the game end. We fought to give ourselves a chance to come back, had a couple of opportunities. When we cut it to 6, we got a couple of deflections and did not come up with the loose ball.
“Those are areas that we’ve been fighting all year. We had a long pass at the end of the game we didn’t come up with.
“I don’t know that we’re short on fight. We’re just short on executing things in a way that gives us a chance to win.”
The Javelinas stymied the Cameron offense in the first half, limiting the Ags to 33 percent shooting and forcing 8 turnovers. They also controlled the boards, 23-16. TAMKU built a 10-2 advantage in points off turnovers, a 6-2 edge in second-chance points and an 8-2 cushion in fast break points.
The Javs shot 44.7 percent and 9 players scored. Will Chayer and Flowers were the leaders with 8 points each.
Schreiner paced the Ags with 8 points and 6 rebounds.
The Javs were coasting with a 51-27 lead early in the second half. Cameron slowly cut into the deficit, finally getting within 10 points when a pair of Schreiner free throws made it 82-74 with 1:31 to play. Chauncey Thomas netted a free throw for the Javs before Schreiner was true with a trey from the top of the key, cutting the gap to 83-77 at 1:11.
That was enough for the Javs, who broke the press and cashed in at the charity stripe.
Brown’s club heads to Texas for its next two games, meeting Dallas Baptist on Thursday and Tarleton State in Stephenville on Saturday. The Ags close their home schedule by facing UT-Tyler on Feb. 13, A&M-Commerce on Feb. 15, Oklahoma Christian on Feb. 20 and Arkansas-Fort Smith for Homecoming on Feb. 22.