Similar to the matchups between the two teams from a year ago, the Western New Mexico University men’s basketball team and Eastern New Mexico University left it all out on the floor. As the teams combined for 54 fouls, the Greyhounds were able to use several big shots down the stretch to hold off a Mustang comeback and claim the 105-91 Lone Star Conference victory Tuesday night.
It was a foul-filled game as the teams shot nearly 80 free throws and 13 players had at least three fouls. Despite the high number of fouls, only one player fouled out as sophomore CJ Vanbeekum reached the five foul mark.
The 91 points for WNMU (3-11, 0-5 LSC) sets a new high mark for the season, breaking the old mark of 89 against the University of the Southwest in the road contest back on Nov. 17 in Hobbs. With the high point tally, six Mustangs reached double-figures led by 19 from junior Willie McCray. Junior Haneef Vaughn-Wilson was right behind with 17 points, followed by 14 from junior Davis Wade, 12 from Vanbeekum and 10 each from senior Latrell Spivey and junior Jordan Enriquez. Spivey was approaching another double-double with eight rebounds.
ENMU (6-8, 1-4 LSC) had similar point distribution with Devin Pullum leading all-scorers with 21 points, as they had six players reach double-figures. Andre Hughes and Arcaim Lallemand were both nearing double-doubles, as each had eight rebounds, while Lallemand scored eight points.
The Greyhounds opened the scoring hitting a pair of three-pointers for the 6-0 lead. Vaughn-Wilson broke the seal for the Mustangs just over two minutes in when he hit a jumper in the paint and after Wade hit three at the foul line it was a three-point game.
After trailing by as many as 10, WNMU began to make a push near the midway point of the opening half. Still down eight at 22-14, an Enriquez foul shot helped jump-start what would be a 10-0 run to move the Mustangs in front. During the spurt, McCray converted a three-point-play, Vaughn-Wilson and McCray each hit transition layups and then a pair of foul shots by sophomore Tyshaun Copper had WNMU looking at a 24-22 lead with 8:43to play before halftime.
The teams traded leads over the next several minutes as another Vaughn-Wilson transition layup gave the Mustangs another lead at 29-28 with 5:18 to go before the break. After that, ENMU took control the rest of the half outscoring WNMU 19-9 to take a 47-38 lead into halftime.
The Greyhounds threatened to run away with the game early in the second half jumping the lead as high as 16 on a pair of occasions. Still down 15, WNMU went on a quick 10-0 run to get right back into it. Vaughn-Wilson scored the first four points of the run and after Wade and Vanbeekum hit back-to-back three-pointers, it was just a 65-60 lead for ENMU with 13:25 to play.
The Mustangs kept pushing and were able to get as close as a point after Enriquez hit five straight points and then two from the line by McCray left it a 68-67 contest near the midway point of the second stanza.
Vanbeekum would convert two at the line and later a jumper by McCray helped the Mustangs tie the game both times, with the last coming at 73-all. WNMU had one more time left in them when Spivey hit a layup off a steal by McCray to knot the score at 75 with 8:13 to play.
Just when WNMU looked to be ready to take the lead, ENMU had other ideas. The Greyhounds outscored the Mustangs by 14 down the stretch, as a Wade three-pointer with 6:24 to play would be as close as WNMU would get trailing by three as the Greyhounds used a couple of three-pointers and clutch foul shots to take the win.
WNMU shot well from the field as they set a new high mark for the season with a 51 percent clip making 29-57 from the field. They also went 5-14 (36) from three and 28-38 (74) at the foul line. ENMU countered making 32-66 (49) from the field, 11-25 (44) from three and 30-39 (77) at the charity stripe.
The Mustangs held the edge in several categories including points off turnovers (20-18), points in the paint (46-36) and fastbreak points (23-15). ENMU led in second-chance points (18-3) and bench points (54-29).
WNMU will now be off until next Thursday, January 11 when they will play at Midwestern State starting at 7:30 p.m. Central Time.