By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
Eastern New Mexico University’s men were having a tough time shooting the ball. Texas A&M-Commerce had a tough time taking care of it.
In the end they offset each other, but the Greyhounds (9-7, 3-2 Lone Star Conference) made enough plays down the stretch to pull out an 83-78 win over the Lions on Wednesday night at Greyhound Arena and pull into a four-way tie for second place in the league behind fourth-ranked Tarleton State (16-0, 5-0).
Senior forward Cornelius Cammock and senior guard Rodney Blackmon scored 19 points each for the Hounds, who now take a three-game winning streak into Stephenville, Texas, on Saturday for a crack at the unbeaten Texans.
“It was a great win,” ENMU coach Andrew Helton said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well until late, but we made three great shots.”
Blackmon and senior guard Devone Davis, who finished with 15 points, hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Hounds in front 73-67 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Senior guard Rafael Love, who had 16 points, then knocked down a 3 from the top of the key with the shot clock running out for a 79-74 lead with just under two minutes to go.
“That was the backbreaker,” Commerce coach Sam Walker said. “It put us in ‘chase’ mode.”
ENMU shot 36 percent for the game, but did hit 9-of-22 from 3-point range, converted 22-of-29 free throws and had a season-low six turnovers while forcing the hard-luck Lions (12-5, 1-4) into 20 floor errors.
“They didn’t turn the ball over,” Walker said of the Hounds. “They were able to execute better than we did, and that was the difference in the game.”
Senior guard Devondrick Walker led the Lions with 27 points, including 6-of-9 on 3s, but Commerce got just 19 points from the rest of its starters and leading scorer LaDon Carnegie was held to seven points off the bench.
Commerce has been in every league game, only to fall short late.
“They have good players,” Helton said. “I’m just thrilled to get the win tonight.”
Blackmon, who was leading the LSC in scoring coming into conference play at around 19 ppg, was averaging less than nine in LSC games before this one. Like most of his teammates, he struggled from the field but he had five steals to help the cause.
“Some teams try to take me out of the game (in terms of scoring),” he said. “That’s why they moved me from (point guard) to the No. 2 position.”
Blackmon said the Hounds are looking forward to Saturday’s matchup. The Texans have been winning big, including Wednesday’s 87-63 rout of West Texas A&M in Canyon.
“That’s the one we really want,” he said. “They put us out (in the LSC tournament) last year, and we haven’t forgot about that.”
Notes — Senior forward Phil Henry had his 50th career blocked shot in the game, becoming only the second ENMU to reach that milestone. The career record-holder is Jamaal Hunnicutt (2001-05) with 73. … ENMU had six blocks, including three by Cammock. …Senior foward D.J. Hardwell missed his third consecutive game with a knee injury sustained the day before the team’s clash last week at Texas A&M-Kingsville. As to his possible return, Helton called him “day-to-day.”