Hounds play tough in crunch time

Joshua Jackson tries to create some room against Midwestern State guard Allen Houston in the first half of Saturday’s Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

Portales — Going up against one of the conference’s leading big men in Midwestern State’s 6-foot-9 center Eric Dawson, Eastern New Mexico knew it was in for a tough night in the post.

“The only game plan was, we didn’t want him to have a career night against us,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said. “And he didn’t.”

The Greyhounds held Dawson in check and were deadly from the free throw line to earn a conference win against Midwestern State 79-72 on Saturday at Greyhound arena.

Nearly unstoppable early, Dawson finished with 21 points, six rebounds, three blocks. However, he was held to six points, two boards, and no blocks in the second half.

“Late in the game he wasn’t the factor he could have been,” Scanlan said. “Most of what he did was in the first half.”

Dawson came into the game averaging 14.6 points and a conference-best 9.3 rebounds per game.

The Greyhounds (8-11, 2-2 LSC South) were lead by Tristan Largent who scored a career-high 22 points, four days after scoring a then career-high 21 against Tarleton State.

ENMU junior Mike Monette scored 14 and pulled down 14 boards despite spotting Dawson three inches.

“It was a big rebounding night for Mike,” Scanlan said. “He struggled in the first half. In the second half, he came out and rebounded like an animal.”

Monette said the Hounds decided to attack Dawson differently in the second half.

“We let him get off a little bit, but in the second half I think we figured out how to stop him,” the junior said. “I tried to play behind him a little more and waited for the help to come team.”

LaKeith Grant scored a game-high 24 for the Mustangs (11-9, 0-5).

Down 62-60, the Hounds dominated down the stretch, ending a game on a 19-10 run.

“One of the good things tonight was we needed to be tough down the stretch and we were,” Scanlan said. “We competed, we pulled some tough rebounds, we hit some crucial free throws and all these things relate back to toughness.”

ENMU was 24-of-27 from the free throw line in the game, including 20-of-22 in the second half.

Both teams started the game hot, combining to hit their first eight shots.

Midwestern State led 32-23 with 5:24 left in the half before cooling off. The Mustangs led 35-33 at halftime.