Hounds beat Abilene Christian, improve postseason hopes

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — They still have work to do, but Eastern New Mexico University’s men took a big step on Wednesday in their bid to reach the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament.

Senior forward Donald Young scored a career-best 21 points off the bench on 8-of-10 shooting, leading five Greyhounds in double figures in an 89-76 South Division rout of Abilene Christian at Greyhound Arena.

ENMU (10-13, 4-5 South) snapped a five-game losing streak and, with three games left, moved into fourth place in the division ahead of Texas A&M-Kingsville (16-7, 3-5), which plays tonight at Tarleton State, and Angelo State (8-15, 3-6), which lost at West Texas A&M 86-56 on Wednesday.

The Hounds hope to have scoring leader Tristan Largent (knee) back when they visit Angelo on Saturday. They close the regular season at home next week against Tarleton State and Midwestern State.

“I think it’s a good thing for us,” Young said of the win. “If we went to Angelo with six (division) losses, we’d feel like there was no hope for us.
“We were able to stop the bleeding.”

Young’s basket put the Hounds in front for good 13-11 early, and they rolled into halftime with a 44-35 cushion. The Wildcats got no closer than eight after that, and the margin reached 20 with about eight minutes left.

“I thought we came out and really played well tonight,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said. “We played pretty tough and pretty smart. It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was a definite step in the right direction.”

Stephen Wilson added 17 points, Mikal Monette 13, Ira Cross 12 and Justin Redman-Trotter 11 for ENMU. The Wildcats were paced by center Igor Vrzina, a 6-foot-8 senior from Serbia, with 18 points.

“We needed to come out and have a decent showing,” Scanlan said. “We’ve had some bad things happen (during the losing streak), but I thought we did a lot of good things tonight.”

The Hounds dominated inside, posting a 42-30 edge on the boards, and also displayed some solid interior passing.

“Coach told us to throw the ball down low because they were smaller than us,” said Young, whose previous ENMU high was 17 last season. “We had them in foul trouble the whole game.”

Eastern has had more success this season away from home (6-5) than at Greyhound Arena, (4-8), which gives it confidence going into Angelo.

“If we can get three out of four (including Wednesday’s game), I believe we’ll have a good chance to make (the tournament),” Young said.

ENMU summary
Lone Star Conference South
ENMU 89, Abilene Christian 76
Abilene Christian (10-13, 1-8) —
Cameron Holson 2-8 1-5 6, Igor Vrzina 9-16 0-0 18, Philip Brooks 6-11 3-4 17, Tiago Souza 1-6 0-0 3, Elmo Williams 3-9 3-4 10, Courtnie Ross 4-6 4-7 13, Brooks Norman 0-0 0-0 0, Norman Alexander 1-4 2-2 5, Riley Lambert 2-2 0-0 4, Scott Lopez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-62 13-22 76.
Eastern New Mexico (10-13, 4-5) — Ira Cross 5-7 2-3 12, Mikal Monette 6-7 1-4 13, Earl Fortenberry 1-3 0-0 3, Justin Redman-Trotter 3-7 4-5 11, Stephen Wilson 5-10 7-10 17, Kevin Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Rodriguez 0-2 0-0 0, Rece Hampton 3-7 0-0 6, Donald Young 8-10 5-5 21, Dwight Collins 1-9 4-4 6. Totals 32-62 23-31 89.
Halftime — Eastern New Mexico 44, Abilene Christian 35. 3-pointers — Abilene Christian 7-24 (Brooks 2-5, Ross 1-1, Alexander 1-3, Williams 1-3, Holson 1-4, Souza 1-5, Vrzina 0-3), Eastern New Mexico 2-10 (Fortenberry 1-2, Redman-Trotter 1-3, Rodriguez 0-1, Collins 0-2, Wilson 0-2). Rebounds — Abilene Christian 30 (Vrzina 6), Eastern New Mexico 42 (Hampton 11). Assists — Abilene Christian 7 (Souza 3), Eastern New Mexico 15 (Collins 4). Total fouls — Abilene Christian 23, Eastern New Mexico 19. Fouled out — Holson, Vrzina, Monette. Technicals — Vrzina, Monette. A — 375.