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

By Kevin Wilson

Hounds survive


January 27, 2019

Kevin Wilson

ENMU senior Treyanna Clay and Texas Woman's freshman Macy Wilkerson battle for a loose ball in the first half of Thursday's Lone Star Conference game at Greyhound Arena. Clay had 22 points before fouling out late in the 79-78 ENMU win.

PORTALES - With Eastern New Mexico hosting its annual kids day, and Greyhound Arena awash in the screams of thousands of bused-in Roosevelt and Curry county children, women's coach Josh Prock had to be loud and animated just so his players could hear him in Thursday afternoon's contest with Texas Woman's.

But down one with 0.2 seconds in overtime, and sophomore Jena Mehlbrech at the line?

It was time to relax.

"I sat down," Prock said of the final sequence. "I had all the confidence in the world she was going to make those shots."

Mehbrech did just that, nailng both to give the Greyhounds a dramatic 79-78 win to stay among the elite in the Lone Star Conference standings. The Greyhounds (13-5, 8-2) went 1-1 on the week, falling 72-61 to No. 14 West Texas A&M on Tuesday, and are tied with the Lady Buffs for second in LSC play at a game below Angelo State.

Treyanna Clay led the Greyhounds with 23 points before fouling out late in overtime, and freshman Zamorye Cox adding 14 points and a long 3-pointer that sent things to overtime. Sophomore Alivia Lewis had 14 points and eight rebounds while playing much of the fourth quarter and overtime with four fouls, while Shelby Jones had 13 points and a team-high nine boards.

"I was proud of the kids for that effort," Prock said. "We're not only in foul trouble, but we're banged up. To be able to get the win, I was very, very proud."

Texas Woman's didn't make it easy. The Pioneers (6-11, 3-6), trailing by double figures midway through the third, chipped away at the interior with London Archer's game-high 24 points and opportunistic guard play from Macy Wilkerson and KJ Stastny, who had 20 and 16 points, respectively.

In the final 1:15, Stastny drew contact on consecutive plays, and hit all four free throws to make it a 66-63 Pioneer lead. It remained a three-point game after the teams traded scores - a Lewis bucket with :37 to go, followed by two Wilkerson free throws - and the Greyhounds had 26 seconds left and no timeouts.

Whatever play Prock had drawn up didn't go as planned, but Cox was given space on an NBA-range trey and didn't hesitate.

"It definitely wasn't the play we'd designed," Prock said. "But I'm not surprised she shot it, and I'm not surprised she made it."

The teams battled in the extra frame, with Clay putting the Greyhounds up by stealing an Ajine Taylor inbounds at midcourt and forcing a foul from Stastny on the layup attempt. She made both free throws to put ENMU up 77-75, but Taylor made up for her mistake with a 3-point play on the next series that fouled Clay out and put the Pioneers up 78-77.

"KJ played one of her best games this season, and she also had six assists," Pioneers coach Beth Jillson said. "I thought Anjine made a great play, getting that and-one to make up for her turnover. We have a resiilent group."

But they couldn't overcome a 27-turnover day, or a 12-5 deficit in overtime free throw attempts.

On the former, Prock said, "We felt we could get turnovers. We saw on film they weren't always careful with the ball. The girls did a great job." On the latter, and on whether Mehlbrech was fouled on the final play, Jillson declined any comment that might draw the ire of the conference office.

Mehlbrech didn't remember the particulars, but said she had hit game-winning free throws before during her prep career at Smithson Valley in Spring Branch, Texas. That was before she came to ENMU and didn't play a single minute in her freshman season.

"At the time, I didn't understand it," Mehlbrech said. "Looking back now, it was a great thing because it helped me acclimate."

She also knew she probably shouldn't have been the one deciding the game. She had managed just 1-of-3 shooting on the day before she got the ball on the left baseline, then found just enough room against Taylor to throw up a shot from a terrible angle that even she admitted was a "Hail Mary" play.

But when the basketball gods chose her, she rose to the moment.

"Personally, I'm just glad I was able to knock those shots down," Mehlbrech said. "Really, the other girls got us there in the first place."

Tuesday - Lexy Hightower had 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting, and the Lady Buffs led by as many as 16 points in the first half before holding off an ENMU rally in the fourth.

ENMU closed to 55-50 with 4:07 to lay on a three-point play by Mehlbrech, but Hightower scored five points on consectuive possessions and the Lady Buffs closed out the game by going 14-of-16 from the line down the stretch.

"I thought defensively, we played pretty well," Prock said. "We did a lot of good things."

Clay and Mehlbrech both scored 13 to lead the Hounds, who resume LSC play Thursday at Cameron and Saturday at Midwestern State.


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