By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
If Eastern New Mexico University’s men are going to make the Lone Star Conference tournament for the fifth time in the last six years, the Greyhounds will need some help — from last-place Abilene Christian.
Eric Dawson, a 6-foot-9 senior center who is three inches taller than anyone on ENMU’s roster, scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Mustangs dominated most of the way in a 77-62 LSC South Division win at Greyhound Arena.
Guards Drew Coffman, Chad Rickett and Chris Davis added 13 points apiece for Midwestern (19-6, 8-3 South), which can win the division on a tiebreaker over West Texas A&M by beating the Buffaloes on Saturday in Canyon.
Meantime, the Greyhounds (11-14, 5-6) fell into a tie for fourth with Texas A&M-Kingsville, but they must win Saturday at home against fourth-place Tarleton State and hope Abilene Christian can pull an upset over the Javelinas, who have the tiebreaker for the final tournament berth from the South by virtue of a sweep over ENMU.
Dawson was credited with three blocks, but caused a lot of problems for ENMU around the basket. He also handed out four assists.
Mustangs coach Jeff Ray said Dawson may get some looks professionally after this season, perhaps abroad.
“Eric’s a great player,” Midwestern coach Jeff Ray said. “He has a chance to play some basketball after this year.
“I think his best basketball is still in front of him.”
The Hounds, who beat the Mustangs 86-81 earlier in Wichita Falls, finished at 37 percent but were well below that for much of the night. Junior Justin Redman-Trotter had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists for ENMU, while senior guard Tristan Largent added 11 points.
“Our defense was good enough to give us a chance, but there was no offense tonight,” Hounds coach Shawn Scanlan said. “As our offense continued to struggle, it affected our defensive effort.
“The bottom line is they were clearly the better team tonight. As the game wore on, they gained more and more confidence.”
Ira Cross’ tipin put ENMU in front 2-0 in the second minute, but the Hounds went scoreless for the next 4 1/2 minutes and the Mustangs took control.
The Hounds pulled to 17-16 when Kevin Davis hit a medium-range jumper and Stephen Wilson got a dunk off a steal, but the they went cold again and managed only one more field goal the rest of the half.
Coffman’s 3-pointer made it 22-16 with four minutes left. Redman-Trotter hit two free throws to keep ENMU within 28-21 with 1:22 to go, but Dawson got inside again for a basket with 15 seconds left and the Mustangs carried a nine-point lead into the break.
A 7-0 run pulled the Hounds to 36-30 four minutes into the second half, but Coffman hit a 3-pointer with 14:58 left to start a 13-0 run over two minutes to put the game out of reach.