By Dave Wagner
Dustin Patton kept Angelo State in the game in the first half. When Eastern New Mexico University finally locked down on him, Kenny Smith took over for the Rams.
Patton and Smith combined for 11 3-pointers and Angelo State led the entire second half in turning back the Greyhounds 80-76 Saturday night in a Lone Star Conference South Division men’s clash at Greyhound Arena.
Patton, who came in averaging just 7.7 points and shooting 37 percent from 3-point range, scored all but one of his 16 points in the first half when he went 5-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Smith then added four treys in the final 20 minutes, giving him six for the night en route to a game-high 21 points.
ASU (9-13, 2-5 South) took a 35-33 halftime lead when junior Matt Hardin grabbed a loose ball under the basket and scored as time expired on an ill-advised desperation 40-footer by Sercan Fenerci, who shot it up with about seven seconds to go.
The Rams went up by 10 points three times early in the second half and held off a late charge by ENMU (8-13, 1-5).
After not shooting a free throw in the first half, ASU went 16-for-22 from the line over the final 20 minutes. Hardin, who missed two free throws with less than a second left on the clock two years ago to send a game into overtime that ENMU eventually pulled out, made 1-of-2 from the line with 1.9 seconds left to clinch the win.
“The key was we made free throws at the end,” ASU coach Joe Esposito said. “Kenny Smith and Dustin Patton had extremely good nights from the free throw line.”
Guard Jermel Brooks added 16 points and forward Rashawn Childs scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Angelo, which shot 46 percent for the game and connected on 12-of-26 from 3-point range.
Smith went 6-of-9 and Dutton finished 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.
“We always shoot well here and play well here,” Esposito said. “The guy I felt good for was Matt Hardin (at the end).
“It as nice to come into this building and win. Every team in this (division) is tough to play, and we were just fortunate to get out of her with a win.”
Senior forward Jamaal Hunnicutt finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and four steals for the Hounds, coming up big after scoring just three points in the first half. Junior guards Jolen Montoya and Reggie Wallace added 17 and 14 points, respectively, and each also contributed four assists.
ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan, whose team begins a four-game, two-week road swing on Thursday at Abilene Christian, said the Rams’ 3-point shooting was hard to overcome.
“We had a tough matchup on Smith, but hats off to him — he hit some big shots,” Scanlan said.
“These (losses) are tough because our backs are against the wall (in the division). It just means we have to go out on the road and do something the next two weeks.”
The Hounds started slowly, falling behind 12-4 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Patton before surging into the lead with a 12-0 run that included a medium-range jumper and a 3-pointer by Montoya.
Despite the rally, Scanlan said he knew the Hounds weren’t in a good groove.
“I thought we hit some shots to get a lead, but we never really established a rhythm on offense,” he said.
Patton brought the Rams back, hitting three more 3-pointers over the next seven minutes. The last put ASU in front 30-27 with less than two minutes to go in the half.
Lone Star Conference South
Angelo State 80, ENMU 76
Angelo State (9-13, 2-5) — Rashawn Childs 3-10 4-4 11, Jordan Walker 2-6 0-0 4, Dustin Patton 5-7 1-3 16, Kenny Smith 7-12 1-2 21, Jermel Brooks 4-6 8-9 16, Royce Hall 0-3 1-2 1, O’Neal Mims 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Hardin 3-8 1-2 7, Marlow Rockwell 0-0 0-0 0, Brian Young 0-0 0-0 0, Sercan Fenerci 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 26-56 16-22 80.
Eastern New Mexico (8-13, 1-5) — Jamaal Hunnicutt 7-15 5-7 19, Chad Donnell 1-6 2-2 4, Reggie Wallace 5-10 4-6 14, Jolen Montoya 6-15 3-4 17, Aaron Rodriguez 3-8 0-0 7, Ean Forrest 0-0 1-2 1, Daniel Sherman 3-4 1-3 7, Edmound Elzy 2-5 2-2 7. Totals 27-63 18-26 76.
Halftime — Angelo State 35, Eastern New Mexico 33. 3-pointers — Angelo State 12-26 (Smith 6-9, Patton 5-7, Childs 1-3, Brooks 0-1, Fenerci 0-1, Hall 0-1, Walker 0-1, Hardin 0-3), Eastern New Mexico 4-13 (Montoya 2-4, Elzy 1-3, Rodriguez 1-3, Wallace 0-3). Rebounds — Angelo State 38 (Childs 8), Eastern New Mexico 35 (Hunnicutt 15). Assists — Angelo State 13 (Childs, Hardin 4), Eastern New Mexico 19 (Hunnicutt 6). Total fouls — Angelo State 22, Eastern New Mexico 17. Fouled out — Wallace. A — 1,157.