Buffs start fast to cruise past Hounds

CNJ staff

CANYON, Texas — Forward Patrick Culver and guard Damien Lolar each scored 23 points Monday night, and West Texas A&M opened an early lead en route to a 93-81 victory over Eastern New Mexico University in a Lone Star Conference South Division men’s basketball game.

The win was the 400th in 19 seasons as a college coach for WT’s Rick Cooper (400-166), including 248 wins in 13 years with the Buffaloes. WT (14-5, 4-1 South) bounced back from a two-point loss at division-leading Tarleton State on Saturday and extended its homecourt winning streak to 15 games, including 11-0 this year.

Culver, a 6-foot-9 senior from Dothan, Ala., also grabbed 11 rebounds for the Buffs, who finished with four players scoring in double figures. Ronnie Holmes added 16 points for WT while reserve Tyler Cooper — the coach’s son — added 11.

ENMU junior Mikal Monette earned his second consecutive double-double — 20 points and 11 rebounds — while guard Tristan Largent had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Also in double figures for the Hounds were guard Jolen Montoya with 15 points and reserve Donald Young with 10.

Tied 2-2 early, the Buffs took the lead for good with a 13-4 run. ENMU (8-12, 2-3) pulled to 17-14 on a basket by Largent with 12 minutes left in the half, but the Buffs pulled away to a 43-27 lead at the break.

WT, which established a season scoring high, led by 20 points three times in the second half while the Hounds were never able to get closer than 11.

“The (final) score wasn’t really indicative of the way the game went,” ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said. “Basically, they (Buffs) had the game the way they wanted it. They took it right to us, especially in the first (half), and we didn’t establish anything on either end.”

The Hounds shot just 39 percent from the field in the opening half, but came back to shoot 61 percent (19-of-31) in the second half and finish at 51 percent overall.

Scanlan said the Hounds played harder and better in the second half, but couldn’t overcome their slow start. Starters Matt Holladay and Stephen Wilson played limited minutes, Scanlan said, primarily relating to their defensive performances.

“The defense was just atrocious tonight,” he summed up. “No way can you explain away 20 layups (for WT).

“We competed better in the second half, but we were so far down we just had to take chances.”

The Buffs compiled 26 assists on their 36 baskets, led by Lolar and guard Kyle Shields with seven apiece. Lolar also grabbed six rebounds.