Freedom New Mexico: Karl Terry Hounds’ senior Kendall Clark throws down one of several dunks during Tuesday night’s game at Greyhound Arena. The Hounds beat New Mexico Highlands 86-67 in their home opener.
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — After sitting out last season with a leg injury, Eastern New Mexico University junior Kendall Clark is still working on getting back in the flow.
Clark took a step in that direction Tuesday night with a 25-point, 10-rebound effort, helping the Greyhounds notch an 86-67 win over New Mexico Highlands at Greyhound Arena.
Clark scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the first half, helping ENMU (2-1) open a 40-34 lead. Still leading by six midway through the second half, the Hounds put the game away with a 19-7 run.
“It’s been about a year and a half (since he played in junior college),” said Clark, a 6-foot-5 forward from Kansas City, Kan. “It’s been pretty hard the first couple of games, but I’m starting to get my legs back. I’m starting to get in the swing of things.”
ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan, who lost a couple of big men to season-ending surgeries in preseason, was happy to see Clark break out.
“This was good for him,” Scanlan said. “I think we need to get a presence out of him. I told him when he came here (last year from South Plains College), ‘We need you to be able to fill a significant role.’”
Jamaal McCoy added 18 points and six rebounds, senior Justin Redman-Trotter finished with 13 points and nine boards and junior Kenneth Ward came off the bench for 10 points for the Hounds.
Junior post Billy Delano led the Cowboys (0-3) with 15 points, while senior guard Stephen Shanks scored 12.
The Hounds shot 56 percent from the floor, but went just 1-of-9 from 3-point range and 15-of-32 from the free throw line despite making seven of their final eight charity shots.
Still, Scanlan said the bright spots overshadowed the struggles, adding that those are things which can be corrected.
“It’s an area of concern,” he said of the free-throw shooting. “But we accomplished one goal — to get to the lin. We just didn’t do a good job of converting.”
Clark said the Hounds may have taken Highlands lightly after seeing the Cowboys lose to Grand Canyon 91-48 on Saturday as part of a doubleheader at Laguna-Acoma High School. ENMU beat Western New Mexico 78-72 in the second game.
“We thought this was going to be an easy game,” he said. “You can’t take teams easily like that.”
The Hounds had only eight players available. Scanlan said senior guard Kevin Davis was suspended for the game, and his status for a weekend trip to Colorado is uncertain.