STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Northwest Missouri State outscored Eastern New Mexico University 28-8 over the final 9 1/2 minutes of the first half and the Bearcats went on to a 77-57 victory over the Greyhounds Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II South Central Region basketball tournament.
The third-seeded Bearcats (27-4) advanced to today’s 4 p.m. (MST) semifinal game against Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association rival Washburn, which beat Drury 81-70 in Saturday’s second game.
Senior guard Kelvin Parker scored 19 points, hitting all three 3-pointers and 7-of-11 field goals overall, and added seven assists, two steals and a block for Northwest. Junior forward Byron Jackson finished with a double-double, collecting 12 points and 10 rebounds, while five other players contributed at least six points.
ENMU (20-9), which shot just 41 percent from the field, was led by reserve guard Jamal Washington’s 15 points. Senior Garland Coleman added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Clovis junior Irshaun Pinckney came up with 12 points.
The sixth-seeded Hounds, who finished 20-9, played NWMSU evenly in the second half, but were done in after committing 15 first-half turnovers and falling behind 43-23 at the intermission.
“They went to a (2-3) zone, and it seemed like it baffled us,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said of the Bearcats’ first-half run. “The zone bothered us and it shouldn’t have. Even when we had the lead early, we had too many mistakes.”
The Hounds led three times by four points in the first seven minutes. But even though they hit six of their first eight field goal attempts, turnovers helped keep them from taking control.
Northwest scored just six points in the first seven minutes, but erased Eastern’s final lead when Jesse Shaw’s 3-pointer put the Bearcats in front for the first time 11-10 with 12:17 left in the half.
The Hounds tied the score on Kennis Green’s free throw with 9:33 left in the half, but another 3-pointer by 6-foot-8 sophomore Austin Meyer gave Northwest the lead for good.
After a dunk by Green pulled ENMU to 20-18, the Bearcats scored the next 12 points as the Hounds went scoreless for 4 1/2 minutes. Eastern had only two field goals in the final eight minutes of the half, and Travis Gardner’s long 3-pointer as time expired extended Northwest’s margin to 20.
NWMSU built its lead to 25 points twice in the first eight minutes of the second half. Eastern went to pressure defense after the break, but the closest it could come was 61-45 with nine minutes to go.
“We had to gamble and when you do that you always leave a door ajar,” Scanlan said. “We forced a few turnovers, but they took advantage of our mistakes.
“Garland Coleman played a good game. Across the board, we had a lot of guys who played hard, but I don’t know if we really had anyone play that well.”
ENMU junior forward Jamaal Hunnicutt was injured late in the game, suffering a fractured fibula when he went up for a shot and landed awkwardly after he was fouled hard by one of the Bearcats. Hunnicutt was scheduled for surgery on Tuesday in his home town of Amarillo.