CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU junior Jamaal McCoy goes up for a shot over East Central’s Ian Adams on Thursday at Greyhound Arena.
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter converted a backcourt steal into a layup with five seconds left Thursday night, capping Eastern New Mexico University’s rally from a 12-point deficit with under 14 minutes remaining for a 63-61 Lone Star Conference men’s victory over East Central at Greyhound Arena.
Redman-Trotter scored a career-high 30 points and added team bests of six rebounds and six assists for the Hounds (4-8), who used trapping pressure defense to fluster the Tigers late.
Down 61-59, Redman-Trotter was fouled by East Central’s Lougwin Spann on a 3-point attempt with 13.4 seconds left. After missing the first shot — his only miss on nine free throw attempts — he swished the next two tries.
He then stole a loose pass in the backcourt and went in uncontested to put the Hounds in front. Junior guard Chad Johnson followed with another steal near midcourt as the final seconds ticked away — East Central’s 28th turnover of the night — to seal the Hounds’ eighth consecutive win over the Tigers dating back to 2001.
“We’ve been struggling so far,” Redman-Trotter said. “But it’s a new year, we’re 1-0, and hopefully we can get some more wins now.”
Senior guard Kevin Davis added 15 points, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range. His last 3-pointer capped an 11-1 surge and put the Hounds in front 59-58 with 39 seconds left.
East Central guard Terrell Carpenter, who finished with 27 points, went inside and converted a three-point play to put the Tigers (6-4) up by two with 29 seconds left.
“We started trapping a little bit and it opened the floor up for us,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said. “It allowed us to score some baskets in transition.
“It’s certainly a good win for us. We needed one in the worst way.”
The Hounds shot were under 30 percent most of the way before Davis and Redman-Trotter picked them up late. Meantime, East Central went 24-for-39 from the floor, but couldn’t overcome its turnover woes.
The Tigers turned the ball over on the first four possessions of the game and seven of the first nine, but the Hounds failed to take advantage because of their poor shooting. ENMU led 14-8 after nine minutes, but the Tigers scored the final six points of the half for a 29-28 advantage.
East Centralwent on an 11-0 run to start the second stanza, holding the Hounds without a field goal for nearly 6 1/2 minutes.
“That was kind of crippling to us,” Scanlan said. “We wanted to come out and make a good showing the first five minutes of the second half.”
Davis scored seven consecutive points to cut a 10-point deficit to 50-47 with 4:48 left, but back-to-back baskets by junior forward Don Riley kept the Tigers up 57-48 with under three minutes left.
“It was frustrating,” Redman-Trotter said of the Hounds’ struggles on offense. “We were playing well at times, but then it seemed like they would make a play and take our momentum away.”
Redman-Trotter and junior guard Jamaal McCoy went the entire 40 minutes for ENMU, which had just seven players available for the third consecutive game.