By Rick White
LUBBOCK — Turns out three was a bad number for the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds.
The Lubbock Christian threesome of Brandon Jones, Mario Muzurovic and Eric Sheets combined for 12 3-pointers as the Chaparrals handed Eastern its third-straight loss, a 77-73 setback Monday night at Rip Griffin Center.
Eastern coach Shawn Scanlan said the Hounds were still feeling the effects of a 78-44 blowout loss Saturday at New Mexico State.
“I don’’t think LCU is a bad team, but this game was there for the taking,” Scanlan said. “But we didn’t start the game with energy or focus and they sure did.”
Sheets came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers in a 13-2 run midway through the second half as the Chaps took the lead for good.
Sheets (5-of-7 on 3s) finished with 15 points off the bench for the NAIA-member Chaps (4-2), who sealed the win at the free-throw line.
Led by Jared Fears, LCU converted 8-of-8 free throws during the last three minutes and 17-of-19 for the game.
Jones, a 6-foot-7 freshman from Wolfforth, Texas, led LCU with 19 points and Muzurovic added 18 points.
The Chaps were coming off a pair of wins over Division I foes at the Las Vegas Invitational. LCU beat Rhode Island and Bradley in the tournament while losing to Big East member Miami.
Jamaal Hunicutt led the Greyhounds (2-3) with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Clovis junior Irshaun Pinckney and Kennis Green added 15 points each for Eastern, which rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit to take a 54-50 with 10:28 left in the game.
“We came out in the second half and played with a real purpose for about 10 minutes,” Scanlan said. “Then we got in a little foul trouble and had to substitute and those guys off the bench didn’t come out with the same energy.”
Green jumpstarted the Eastern rally, converting a steal into a layup and added a 3-pointer. Eastern took its first lead since the six-minute mark at 45-44 on Brent Cooper’s steal and layup.