ENMU senior Mikal Monette and New Mexico Highlands freshman David Omogham battle for a rebound during the first half of Tuesday night’s game at Greyhound Arena. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University senior forward Mikal Monette said a win is a win.
Monette scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Greyhounds beat in-state rival New Mexico Highlands 81-71 Tuesday night at Greyhound Arena.
It was Monette’s fourth double-double at Eastern and the Greyhounds’ first win after opening the season last weekend with a pair of close losses.
“This team that we played tonight is not a bad team,” Monette said. “But they’re not somebody like Washburn that we played the other night. We just have to understand that it’s a win, but we didn’t play the best basketball that we could play. We can play a lot better, we realize that we still have a lot to build on.”
Senior forward Ira Cross and junior guard Kevin Davis led the Greyhounds with 17 points each, with Cross going 8-for-9 from the field. The win extends the ENMU’s winning streak over New Mexico Highlands to six, dating back to November 2000.
ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan was concerned with his team’s inconsistency.
“Every time we did something good, we answered with something bad,” Scanlan said. “I thought we struggled from a performance standpoint, but there were some bright spots.”
The Cowboys opened the contest taking a 12-5 lead, highlighted by four points from Highlands guard David Omoghan.
Eastern responded with a 19-0 run. Monette scored 12 points in the spurt that staked the Greyhounds to a 24-12 lead.
“We got ahead 12-5 and we were playing very well,” New Mexico Highlands coach Greg Berry said. “We went from (being) up 12-5, to (being) down 24-12, and 10 of those points were while our bench guys were in there.”
The Cowboys cut the ENMU lead to three, but Cross sank a 15-footer at the buzzer to send the Hounds into the break with a 34-29 lead.
ENMU maintained its lead throughout the second half, leading by as many as 12 points.
The Hounds outrebounded the Cowboys 41-21, scored 16 points from offensive rebounds compared with four for Highlands.
The Hounds shot 55 percent from the field, while Highlands finished at 43 percent.
Even though they won, Scanlan and the Hounds know they have work to do.
“I thought that Highlands was very scrappy,” Scanlan said. “I thought they really fought hard, and did the things they could do to stay in the game. We’ve still got to go back and get some things done but it’s a lot easier to go back after a win, than it is after a loss.”
Leo Ural led Highlands (0-3) with 19 points.