The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Peter Stein
Staff writer 

Biggest one yet

Hounds rally for emotional 70-68 win over Tarleton State to surpass .500 in LSC play.

 

January 20, 2019

Kevin Wilson

Greyhound sophomore guard Devin Pullum reacts after his go-ahead 3-pointer in Thursday night's 80-78 win over Tarleton State.

PORTALES - The Eastern New Mexico men's basketball team may remember Jan. 17, 2019 for the remainder of this season. Maybe longer.

It was the night an injury-riddled 2018-19 team seemed to find itself. Hosting Lone Star Conference foe Tarleton State at Greyhound Arena Thursday night, the Hounds trailed almost the whole game, rallied to grab the lead before falling behind one last time, then won 70-68 on sophomore guard Devin Pullum's right-elbow trey with three seconds left.

After staving off Tarleton's last-gasp attempt, the Greyhounds' stunning victory had accomplished several things. They had halted a losing streak at three, had beaten a very good conference opponent in the second half of January, had posted consecutive wins over Tarleton State for the first time since 1996, and had remained unbeaten at Greyhound Arena this season.

A nice haul indeed. But perhaps even more importantly, the Hounds had made a statement - to themselves as well as the rest of the LSC. By toppling an opponent that had been ranked 23rd in the nation less than a week earlier, the Greyhounds are a team that can be a factor down the stretch, one much better than their 7-8 overall record and 4-3 mark in the LSC (as of Thursday) indicated.

"This is a big one," Pullum said. "I think it's the turning point of our season."

"Man, it's big," Hounds senior guard Nick Brown said. "Winning like this, executing like we did and finishing in the last minute, it's really big. I think it shows us that we can be a powerful team."

"(Tarleton) is one of the best teams, arguably, in the country," ENMU head coach Tres Segler said. "These (Eastern) guys knew what it would take. You saw it in the stretch with some of the crazy plays that we made; it's an emotional game. They're not our rival, but we coached this game like it was a rivalry game, just because the games are always so emotional. You just don't know what's going to happen."

A pair of free throws by Tarleton's Jesse Hill had given the Texans a 68-67 lead with 17.6 seconds to go. After the Greyhounds crossed the midcourt line on their ensuing possession, Segler called a timeout with 12.4 seconds left, and then Eastern began setting up to try to win it.

The ball came to Pullum, who watched the offense unfold, tried to motion certain players into place as he dribbled. Finally as time was melting away, Pullum ducked behind a screen on the right elbow and let fly.

Bam! His shot was good and the Hounds were up 70-68 as Greyhound Arena erupted.

"I ran the wrong play. I was supposed to pass it," Pullum admitted later.

But when it works out, it works out.

"I just saw my opening," Pullum said, "and let it go."

"We got, more or less, what I wanted to get out of it," Segler said of the play.

Three seconds still remained when Tarleton forward Josh Hawley caught a long inbounds fling near the top of Eastern's key. Hawley dished to teammate Randall Broddie, who was able to get a good mid-range look but his jumper wouldn't go.

The Hounds prevailed in a game they had trailed most of the way, though they were never too far behind, down by no more than eight in the second half.

They faced a six-point deficit, 60-54, with 7:14 remaining but quickly chiseled it away. A Chukuka Emili dunk brought Eastern within four and a Brown jumper made it a 60-58 game.

With 5:03 left, Brown was at the line shooting two. He calmly sank both to forge a 60-all tie.

The Texans were called for traveling on their next trip down the floor, and on Eastern's ensuing possession, Zach Parker buried a trey to give the Hounds a 63-60 edge with 4:20 left in the second half.

ENMU remained in front until Hill's free throws with 17.6 seconds to go, even led by as many as four twice (65-61, 67-63) in the late going. Their last four-point advantage was shrunk to one on a pair of Corinthian Ramsey technical free throws and a foul shot by Hill with 44.2 seconds left, 27 seconds before his game-tying and go-ahead shots from the stripe.

After the Greyhounds had rallied one final time, they were a confident team, a team on the rise.

Was it Eastern's biggest win of the season so far? The consensus seemed to be, kinda.

"In a lot of ways, yes," Segler said. "Especially after having a tough spell, a lot of adversity these last couple of games. I don't think that we played up to our potential these last two or three, and I think in this game we showed that we are still dangerous."

"Yes and no," Brown said. "I feel like we had bigger wins in the first two home games. I felt like that really brought our team together. ... But (Thursday's) game definitely brought us back together, too, because we came off a couple of tough losses with a big win at home, with our family and friends watching."

"I think conference-wise (it's the biggest)," Pullum said. "We've had some big wins, like Regis (in Denver) before Christmas break. But I think in the conference, this is our biggest win."

 
 

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