FNM correspondent: Joshua Lucero University of the Southwest’s Rondell Thomas dribbles through ENMU’s Greg McFarland, left, and Max Carrier during Monday’s game at Greyhound Arena. The Hounds improved to 7-1 with a 110-73 victory.
PORTALES — The Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team certainly has its mojo going. Now the Greyhounds hope to carry it into Lone Star Conference play.
Senior point guard Reggie Nelson erupted for 30 points — one short of his career high — and the Hounds tied a school record with 17 3-point baskets Monday night in a 110-73 rout of University of the Southwest at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (7-1) won its seventh in a row heading into Thursday’s LSC opener at Texas A&M-Kingsville. The Hounds then visit Incarnate Word on Saturday afternoon before traveling to California for a Monday night test against Division I Long Beach State, their final out-of-conference game.
Nelson went 8-of-9 from the floor, including 5-of-5 from 3-point range, in a 21-point first half that ended with the Hounds cruising 59-34. Nelson and senior guard Tralyn Harden each hit a pair of 3-pointers for an early 12-3 lead, and the Hounds stretched that to 24-3 eight minutes into the game as the Mustangs opened 1-for-11 from the floor with 10 turnovers.
“Defensively, we played well early,” ENMU coach Andrew Helton said. “We’re a pretty good transition team; if we can get stops, we can usually get scores.”
Nelson finished 12-of-16 from the floor and 6-of-9 from long distance. He also had eight rebounds and four assists.
“It’s a momentum-builder going into conference,” said Nelson, who had 31 points in a January 2010 game against Angelo State before sitting out the 2010-11 season for personal reasons.
“This week’s going to be hard,” he said. “These are the games that really count if we want to get that championship.”
Harden finished with 22 points, hitting 5-of-11 from 3-point distance, while senior guard Stefan Mirabal added 17 points.
“I was just feeling good tonight,” said Nelson, averaging 8.4 points coming in this season. “It was just one of those nights, but everybody played good.”
The Hobbs-based Mustangs (2-2), an NAIA school, counted the game as an exhibition. USW put four players in double figures, led by senior guard Chris Avery with 12 points.
With 18 league games on tap, the LSC is getting off to an earlier-than-usual start in conference play. Helton has generally liked what he’s seen to this point.
“I hope so,” he said about whether the team is ready for LSC action. “We’re doing some good things, but the league is very, very good and we’ve got to continue to play well.”
The Hounds were without 6-foot-8 senior forward Curtis Wilkinson, who returned to California after Saturday’s 98-84 win at Oklahoma Panhandle State because of a death in the family. Helton said it’s possible Wilkinson, who scored 20 points at OPSU on 10-of-11 shooting and is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13 ppg, could be back by Thursday.
“We hope to get him back soon,” Helton said. “He’s been a key is several of our road wins.”