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Collapse averted for Hounds

Patriots wipe out big early deficit, but Greyhounds hold on to claim 79-72 victory.


February 16, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Eastern New Mexico guard Ibn Zaid challenges Dallas Baptist defender Brandon Jacobs in the second half of Thursday's Lone Star Conference game at Greyhound Arena. The Greyhounds lost most of a 23-point first-half lead, but held on to top the Patriots 79-72.

PORTALES— The Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team has had its share of disappointing games this season. Thursday night’s game, though, did not make that list.

Hosting Dallas Baptist at Greyhound Arena, ENMU took the lead early, never surrendered it, and held on for a 79-72 victory.

It was the Greyhounds’ seventh win this season — both overall (7-15) and in the Lone Star Conference (7-10) — as they headed into Saturday’s home game against another LSC rival, Tarleton State. And the Hounds weren’t exactly playing a pushover Thursday; Eastern handed Dallas Baptist only its sixth loss of the season — overall (17-6) and conference (11-6).

Not a bad night to be a Greyhound.

“We’ve been so close so many times that we needed something to go our way,” ENMU head coach Tres Segler said. “We dropped some games to some teams in the conference that we felt like we should’ve handily beat, and so it’s very rewarding to win against a top-ranked team, the fourth-ranked team in the conference. It proves that as long as we all play unselfish and we share the basketball and keep our turnovers low that we can play with anybody in the league. I believe in our guys like that when we’re at full capacity.”

“It’s a big win because it’s getting late in the season,” Greyhounds junior guard Brandon Meadows said after coming off the bench to heat things up like the weather in his native Bahamas. “We have to win every game from here, so I think that was a good start.”

Meadows played 26 minutes, shot 60 percent (6-of-10) from the field, 75 percent (3-of-4) from the foul line and finished with 17 points to go with his game-high 10 rebounds.

Eastern’s Jose Serrano scored a team-best 19 points, and Darius Sawyer added 14 points for the Hounds, who overcame a game-high 22 points from DBU’s Chandler Jacobs to survive Thursday’s game.

That was obviously not the result Dallas Baptist was hoping for.

“Bottom line, Eastern New Mexico was the more aggressive team from the start and really jumped on us early in the game,” DBU head coach Blake Flickner said. “We dug ourselves a big hole and they were the aggressor to start the game. So you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”

Dallas Baptist went into that ‘big hole’ during the first half, as the Greyhounds transformed an 8-4 deficit into a 16-8 lead with a 12-0 run that included a Meadows layup, a three-point play completed by Serrano at the foul line, a Sawyer layup, a Meadows free throw to end a possession he had created with a steal, and Sawyer dunks on consecutive Eastern possessions.

With 13:31 remaining in the first half, Dallas Baptist finally ended the Greyhounds’ run with a Carson Hughes layup. But Eastern was just getting started, as the 12-0 spurt turned out to be part of an overall 37-10 run that resulted in a 41-18 ENMU advantage late in the half.

By halftime the Patriots had trimmed the margin some, but Eastern was still in command, leading 45-27.

DBU, though, wasn’t done, and kept chipping, chipping, chipping away in the second half. The Patriots, in fact, had shaved their deficit to just 61-55 by the half’s 7:51 mark.

It got even dicier for the Greyhounds, who saw DBU actually make it a one-possession game, cutting the margin all the way down to 64-62. But just 26 seconds after that became the score, Ibn Zaid hit a layup for Eastern, and the difference was never again that low throughout the game’s remaining 4:14.

It was a one-possession game again (66-63) with 3:57 to play, and 68-65 with 2:32 left, but 27 seconds later, Sawyer drove the lane, took a right-to-left pass from Meadows, and dunked to give ENMU a 70-65 cushion.

Eastern’s next possession ended with Serrano hitting two free throws at the 1:33 mark, and though Jacobs quickly nailed a three on the other end, narrowing the Patriots’ deficit to 72-68 with 1:25 to go, they never drew any closer the rest of the way.

ENMU outscored Dallas Baptist 7-4 during that last stretch to close it out.

“I was very proud of them for staying tough through that storm,” Segler said.

“We kept the pace, we kept the tempo,” Meadows said. “We didn’t get rattled.”

The Greyhounds showed confidence during those iffy moments. Actually, they’ve displayed a lot of confidence lately.

“And maybe that’s the secret sauce, we’re believing in ourselves,” Segler said. “Sometimes the worst thing you can do is focus so hard on the result, and it’s hard to get kids this age to just stay focused on the process and trust that the result will come.”

The result came in a big way for Eastern on Thursday. It was an unhappy one for Dallas Baptist, despite the stirring comeback.

“I’m proud that we competed in the second half,” Flickner said, “but we needed to do that for 40 minutes. You can’t beat a good team just doing it for 20 minutes. I really felt good coming into this game, I thought we’d come off a really good week and were really peaking at the right time. But maybe we got a little complacent, I don’t know. We weren’t sharp tonight, that’s for sure.”


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