UAFS rallied from a 13-point, first-half deficit, but the Lions couldn’t hold off the Texas A&M International Dustdevils down the stretch on Saturday.
Kevin Jefferson, Jr., scored on a jumper with three seconds left to lift the Dustdevils to a 71-69 win in Heartland Conference play at the Kinesiology and Convocation Building in Laredo, Texas.
UAFS (7-3), which was the preseason favorite to win the conference, finished its opening weekend of conference play 0-2. The Lions lost to the St. Mary’s Rattlers on Thursday night at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas, to open their road trip through the Lone Star State.
TAMIU (9-4) remained undefeated in conference play, sweeping its two-game, home series.
After trailing by 13 points in the first half and by two points (35-33) at halftime, the Lions enjoyed as much as an eight-point lead in the second half before the Dustdevils made their late comeback.
TAMIU took a 69-67 lead on a pair of free throws by Jefferson with 50 seconds, but UAFS senior guard Jake Toupal drained a jumper with 30 seconds to tie the game at 69 points. The Dustdevils ran the clock down to three seconds before Jefferson struck again, sinking a jumper for the win.
Toupal led UAFS with 18 points, including two of the Lions’ four 3-pointers. Freshman guard Alex Cooper chipped in 16 points, and senior guard Xavier McClish had 15 points. No other Lion had more than four points.
UAFS shot 45 percent from the field (19 for 42) – it was 4-for-14 shooting from 3-point range, and shot 73 percent from the free-throw line (27 for 37).
Cooper, who was 11-for-14 shooting from the free-throw line, just missed a double-double, collecting a team-high nine rebounds. UAFS out-rebounded TAMIU by one rebound (33-32).
Johnel Grey led TAMIU with 15 points, while Jefferson and Jamie Farrie had 12 points apiece. The Dustdevils shot 40 percent from the field (23 for 57) – it was 3-for-14 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 76 percent from the free-throw line (22 for 29).
Farrie and Jordan Clark led the Dustdevils with nine rebounds.
TAMIU 71, UAFS 69
UAFS 33 36 — 69
TAMIU 35 36 — 71
UAFS (7-3, 0-2): Toupal 18, Cooper 16, McClish 15, Copeland 4, Youngblood 4, Franklin 4, Ross 3, Glavas 3, Branham 2
TAMIU (9-4, 2-0): Grey 15, Jefferson 12, Farrie 12, Faniel 9, Clark 7, Donaldson 7, Breedlove 5, Culliver 4