Greyhounds outlast Falcons
February 2, 2020
PORTALES — If you hadn’t seen any of Thursday night’s game between the University of Texas-Permian Basin and the Eastern New Mexico men’s basketball teams, hadn’t even seen a score, you would’ve known how it turned out simply by walking past each team’s locker room at Greyhound Arena.
If you strolled past UTPB’s locker room you would have heard Falcons head coach Josh Newman screaming at his players. Even if you came back 10 minutes later, more screaming.
But if you stood outside the ENMU locker room, you would’ve heard cheering, chanting, hoots, hollers.
Understandable on both of the above after Eastern New Mexico survived blowing a double-digit lead in the first half and other UTPB runs in the second to win 89-83. Though the Greyhounds’ overall record only improved to 6-12, their Lone Star Conference mark neared .500. Eastern’s 6-7 LSC record heading into Saturday’s home showdown against Western New Mexico was the same as Permian Basin’s. And the Hounds have now swept the Falcons this season.
Precarious for a while Thursday, but Eastern got it done.
“I was very proud,” ENMU head coach Tres Segler said, “especially with our scouting report. There were some actions that they ran that we guarded well and there were some actions that we wanted to run against them, against their defense, and I thought we did a good job of running those well. So, all in all, man, I’m proud of them.”
“Our record is not the best right now, so every win for us is a really big deal,” Eastern junior swingman Jose Serrano said after scoring 13 points in 19 minutes Thursday. “I feel like we’ve got a pretty good team.”
“This is just the beginning of a bigger picture, I think,” Greyhounds junior guard Ibn Zaid said after hitting four clutch free throws in the game’s final 40 seconds. “It was a huge win.”
The bigger picture Zaid referred to is the stretch Eastern is now in, the final 10 regular-season games during which the Greyhounds hope to make a push for the LSC tournament. Thursday’s victory could help.
Eastern went up by double digits in the first half on a steal and dunk by Serrano. Though he was called for a technical, Serrano had put the Hounds up 18-8.
It was 20-9 Eastern when the Falcons went on an 11-0 run — including back-to-back Pat Dembley three-point bombs, a reverse lay-in by Adam Rivera, and yet another Dembley three — to tie the game.
Segler wasn’t surprised by Dembley’s offensive outburst.
“The Dembley kid is unreal,” Segler said. “He’s one of the best scorers I’ve ever coached against. And as far as Division II goes he’s crazy talented.”
On the ensuing Eastern possession after Dembley’s game-tying three, senior forward Deng Kuany hit a bank shot to put the Greyhounds up 22-20. UTPB took the lead, 23-22, on its next possession when Dembley hit another trey, but senior guard Isaiah Murphy sank a three from the left corner to put Eastern back in front while beginning an 8-0 Greyhound run that also included a three-point play completed at the line by junior guard Brandon Meadows and a goal-tending call against the Falcons’ Donoven Carlisle, giving ENMU a 30-23 lead.
The Greyhounds maintained that arm’s-length advantage throughout the remainder of the first half, and led 46-38 at the break.
It was again an eight-point Eastern lead, 49-41, early in the second half before UTPB mounted another comeback, another 11-0 run that put the Falcons ahead 52-49. This run was capped by Fermandez Jones’ game-tying trey from the right corner and Rivera’s three from the right arc to move the Falcons back in front.
Permian Basin stretched its lead all the way to 57-51 before it was Eastern’s turn to go on a run — a 7-0 surge that included a right-arc trey from Meadows, a Darius Sawyer dunk, and a turnaround hook from junior forward Mathew Mazique that gave ENMU a 58-57 lead.
Back came UTPB again, however, with four straight points to take a 61-58 advantage, and the Falcons built a 65-60 lead before Eastern scored seven straight – on a two-point basket from Kuany, a game-tying three by Murphy, and a pair of foul shots from Zaid that gave the Hounds a 67-65 lead at the second half’s 8:14 mark.
A turnaround shot by Permian Basin’s Miles Washington tied it at 67, but Mazique scored inside to put Eastern up again, and this time the Greyhounds stayed ahead. Mazique’s basket was followed by a three-point play Serrano completed from the line after a reverse lay-in, making it a 72-67 game with 6:54 left.
From then on, though Eastern’s advantage was never more than seven, it was never less than three. The Greyhounds went on to win, after surviving Falcon surge after Falcon surge.
“I was glad our confidence didn’t break in those moments,” Segler said. “I think our guys tried to chalk it up for what it was in an individual play and move on to the next one.”
“I think everybody understands that basketball is a game of runs,” Zaid said. “In the Lone Star Conference, when you play good teams they’re going to go on runs. It’s all about weathering the storm.”