COMMERCE, Texas — Irshaun Pinckney and Brent Cooper each sank two free throws in the final 17 seconds Thursday night as Eastern New Mexico University slipped away with a 55-52 Lone Star Conference South Division men’s victory over Texas A&M-Commerce.
Pinckney also hit a jumper as the shot clock ran out with 33 seconds left in the game, giving the Greyhounds (11-5, 1-0 South) a seemingly safe 51-46 lead. But the Lions (9-8, 0-2) made it interesting, getting 3-pointers from Poncho Reedy and Matthew Rager to force ENMU to win it from the free throw line.
Reedy’s desperation 3-pointer in the closing seconds was off the mark.
Pinckney was the only Eastern player in double figures, finishing with 10 points. Buckley, Jamal Washington, Garland Coleman and Kennis Green each scored eight.
The Lions also had only one player in double figures — senior center Clay Lewkowski with 21 points.
The teams traded points early before an 8-0 run put the Hounds up 14-8. But the Lions rallied back with six consecutive points and the game stayed close the rest of the half, which ended with ENMU leading 25-23.
Commerce then opened the second half with an 11-0 run. Lewkowski had three baskets in that time, including a jumper to cap it and make it 34-25 with 15:57 left.
Eastern began to whittle away at its deficit, pulling ahead 39-38 on a jumper by Coleman with 8:46 to go. The Hounds never relinquished the lead in the slow-paced game, but they were unable to put the Lions away.
ENMU went 2 1/2 minutes without scoring in one stretch, but TAMC managed only three points in that time and trailed 46-45 before Coleman found Buckley inside. He converted a layup and added a free throw with 2:30 to go after Lewkowski fouled him.
Both teams struggled from the field, shooting under 40 percent, with the Hounds shooting just 2-for-18 from 3-point range. The teams were even on the boards 39-39, with Washington grabbing eight caroms for Eastern and Thaddeus Daggett pulling down 12 for TAMC.