Commerce topples Hounds
CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU forward Tyler Jefferson shoots over Ronnie Morgan of Texas A&M-Commerce during the first half of Saturday’s game.
PORTALES — Standing 6-foot-6 with a mohawk and a booming voice, Ronnie Morgan is tough to miss on the court. Much to Eastern New Mexico’s chagrin, he was even harder to miss on the stat sheet.
Morgan scored six of his career-high 24 points during a 17-6 run that turned the tide, and Texas A&M-Commerce improved to 9-1 for the season with a 75-58 win in Saturday night’s Lone Star Conference men’s crossover game at Greyhound Arena.
Brad Hambrick added 16 for the Lions, who ran away late to win their fifth game in a row in the series and send the Greyhounds (5-5) to their fourth loss overall in five games.
An aggressive Lions defense held the Greyhounds to 28 percent shooting, and the penetration of Morgan and Hambrick led to a 38-26 advantage in the paint — all part of helping the Lions keep the upper hand despite 23 turnovers and a pair of technical fouls.
“We’ve got a pretty athletic team,” Commerce coach Sam Walker said. “We have some games where we’ve won because of defense.”
The Lions stayed in control most of the night, save for a 15-5 Greyhounds run to start off the second half. Then Morgan got going, and a lead slowly grew to double figures as foul trouble and poor shooting led to the Hounds’ downfall.
“We recruited Ronnie Morgan when I was in (Texas A&M) Corpus (Christi),” Greyhounds coach Andrew Helton said. “We didn’t get him; he went to Louisiana Tech.”
Morgan, who later transferred to the Lions, finished 6-of-10 from the field and put an exclamation point on the night with a two-handed flush with 1:45 left for a 69-57 advantage.
Walker said the beauty of his squad is a different guy can come through every night. Hambrick had 25 in the Lions’ recent win over Angelo State, and Brian Singleton (five points Saturday) had back-to-back 20-point games before that. Walker thought the Greyhounds, rebuilding from last year's 4-23 campaign, were shorthanded at times.
“They played hard and they executed and they had some guys get into foul trouble,” Walker said. “Otherwise, that game’s a little bit different.”
Jimmie Marshall and Reggie Nelson had 11 points each for ENMU, and Victor Reid added 10.
The Greyhounds are off until Jan. 2, when they travel to Brigham Young in Provo, Utah.
“We hope they’re safe,” Helton said of his players. “We hope they enjoy the time with their families. But we’ve got to come back and work.”