Hounds rally to shock Lions


December 22, 2019

Kevin Wilson

Greyhound junior guard Garrick Sherrod gets around Arkansas-Fort Smith defender Seth Hawley for a layup in the second half of Thursday's Lone Star Conference game at Greyhound Arena.

PORTALES — In a season where the most familiar thing has been frustration, a quick 10-2 deficit certainly seemed in place at Greyhound Arena Thursday night.

But just enough went the Greyhounds’ way in the second half, and an offensive rebound went the way of Marvin Mapaga in the closing seconds. The junior forward made the second of two free throws to break a tie, and Arkansas-Fort Smith couldn’t connect on a long heave in the final second as Eastern New Mexico snuck out with a 52-51 victory.

The Greyhounds (2-7, 2-2) faced Oklahoma Christian Saturday, with the game still ongoing at press time.

Thursday saw the host Greyhounds beaten in pretty much every statistical category except a 27-8 advantage in free throw attempts, and the Green and Silver somehow recovered from a Lion lead that swelled to 25-10 with just over 12 minutes gone in the first half.

“It did affect us,” ENMU coach Tres Segler said. “You saw the guys take that deep breath, maybe not like, ‘Here we go again,’ but, ‘Why is this happening?’ We haven’t figured that out. If you could see us in our practices, it’s an absolute war zone. Guys are flying all over the gym, they’re diving on the floor and the energy is crazy. Maybe I worked them too hard this week. We came out a little flat.”

Still trailing by 14, ENMU closed the half on a 7-0 run capped by a dunk from senior guard-forward Darius Sawyer, pulling to 32-25 at the break.

“We knew we had to stay positive,” senior guard Isaiah Murphy said. “We’ve been through adversity this season, and we couldn’t let that get us down.”

Fort Smith (5-5, 1-3) scored the first four points of the second half to lead by 11, but the Hounds chipped away and took their first lead at 41-40 on two free throws by junior guard-forward Jose Serrano with 7:26 left. A 3-pointer by Murphy — his only field goal of the game — made it 47-42, and a 3 by junior guard Brandon Meadows gave ENMU a 51-43 lead with 3:40 left.

But the Lions scored four baskets to tie it — two by junior guard Charles Botchway, including a layup to pull the Lions even with 28 seconds left.

ENMU then ran down the clock, and Mapaga and was fouled by Botchway as he went up with an offensive rebound just before time expired.

“He’s been so handcuffed by foul trouble,” Segler said of Mapaga. “Sometimes we don’t agree with the fouls. Maybe it’s because he’s so intimidating looking he gets calls that aren’t great. He’s had to battle that stop-and-go basketball of never really getting into a flow. It’s hard. I was very proud of him for in the last moment, staying in the course of the game. He was up off his feet before anybody else and he was at the rim.”

Serrano was ENMU’s lone double-figure scorer with 11 points off the bench. Hounds reserves outscored the Lions’ subs for the game 36-8.

Meantime, senior forward Matt Morgan led the Lions with 18 points, while junior guard Matthew Wilson added 12. Lions coach Jim Boone said the tide started to turn when Wilson picked up his third and fourth fouls in a double-technical situation early in the second half. Boone reacted to the free throw discrepancy with a simple, “Welcome to the road in the Lone Star Conference,” then gave the Greyhounds credit for the comeback.

“They did a great job pressuring the ball,” Boone said. “That pressure took us out of our offense.”

Segler said the Lions’ system is predicated on using outside shooting to punish teams who help out on defense, and unfortunately the Greyhounds play a help defense. The Lions shot 3-of-15 from beyond the arc on the night, and went 0-for-5 in the second half.

Getting games against non-division LSC foes helps in the eventual playoff race, Segler said, but getting a win that by all accounts should have been a loss is a confidence boost.

“At Midwestern before this,” Segler said of his prior job as a Midwestern State assistant, “we called these games ‘I don’t know hows.’ I don’t know how we won, but we found a way. In the tournament, and when you’re playing in a ‘three games in five days to get to the Elite Eight’ situation, you’re going to have to win one of those. I’m proud the guys pulled that one out so we have that experience.”

Kevin Wilson

ENMU forward Marvin Mapaga goes up for a shot against Arkansas-Fort Smith defenders Chris Rollins, left, and Braden Boyer in Thursday night's game.


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