Freedom New Mexico
With a big rally down the stretch, the Eastern New Mexico University Greyhounds ended a 10-game losing streak against Lone Star Conference South Division rival West Texas A&M Wednesday night.
Now ENMU will try to do it again on Saturday in Canyon, Texas.
The Hounds trailed by nine points midway through the second half and by eight with six minutes to go, but managed to get the game into overtime and then eke out a 61-58 victory over the Buffaloes at Greyhound Arena.
Senior guard Jimmie Marshall scored the last four points of overtime and ENMU (8-12, 3-3 South) managed to survive a flurry of 3-point tries by the Buffs (11-10, 2-4) in the closing seconds to register their first win over WT since a 77-72 overtime verdict in Canyon on Feb. 9, 2004.
Reggie Nelson scored 19 points and Tyler Jefferson added 18 points, including a layup that sent the game into overtime, as the Hounds took sole possession of fourth place in the South over the Buffs. The top four teams in each division advance to the LSC tournament at Bartlesville, Okla., in early March.
WT, which got 13 points from reserve LaDarius Hall, will try to pull even again in Saturday’s rematch, set for a 5 p.m. (MST) tipoff.
The Hounds’ last win over WT was a 77-72 overtime decision in Canyon on Feb. 9, 2004.
Both teams had beaten Abilene Christian and Texas A&M-Kingsville to start off South play, then lost to Tarleton State, Midwestern State and Angelo State.
“I don’t think we played (well) offensively for most of the game,” first-year Greyhounds coach Andrew Helton said. “We were able to get pressure to the inside to make things happen and we got a couple of stops on defense. It was a huge win for us.”
West Texas A&M coach Rick Cooper gave ENMU credit for hanging tough.
“It was a hard-fought game that came down to overtime,” he said. “We really didn’t pressure well. We would like to try to got out and pressure and deny, but we struggle with that as a basketball team at times.”
With 6:12 left in regulation and West Texas A&M up 52-44, Nelson scored four points to ignite an 8-0 ENMU run which tied the score with 2:53 left on the clock.
After an Alex Davis layup gave WT a 58-56 lead with eight seconds left, Marshall found Jefferson for a layup with two seconds left to end the game into overtime.
ENMU held a decisive edge at the free throw line, converting a season-high 84 percent on 21-of-25 to 8-of-13 for the Buffs.