ACU slips past Hounds

CNJ staff

ABILENE, Texas — Junior guard Kendall Durant scored 17 points to lead four Abilene Christian players in double figures Saturday and the Wildcats pulled away late for a 79-68 Lone Star Conference men’s victory over Eastern New Mexico University.

Senior guard Reggie Nelson scored a career-high 35 points, but no one else reached double figures for the Greyhounds (13-10, 6-8 LSC), who fell to 1-8 this season on the road, including 0-6 in the LSC.

It was ACU’s first win over the Hounds since a 71-65 decision at Greyhound Arena in the 2008-09 finale. ENMU had won five in a row from the Wildcats since then.

The Hounds, playing without four players due to injury, essentially went with a seven-man rotation. They lost Nelson and junior guard Devone Davis to fouls late, while guard Tralyn Harden and post Greg McFarland each finished with four personals.

Frontliners Max Carrier, Aaron Edwards and Daniel Strong have been out for some time, and senior guard Stefan Mirabal did not play Saturday due to an undisclosed injury.

Senior forward Eric Kibi and junior guard Marc Little added 11 off the bench for ACU (11-13, 3-11), while junior guard Antonio Bell had 10 points. The Wildcats shot 52 percent from the field and converted 21-of-26 from the free throw line.

Nelson shot 11-of-19 from the field, including 7-of-10 from 3-point range, and converted 6-of-7 free throws. He scored 13 consecutive ENMU points, capped by his second 3-pointer that put the Hounds in front 16-12 with 12:41 left in the half.

Senior guard Tralyn Harden’s 3-pointer gave ENMU a 19-16 lead with 10:57 to go, but the Hounds were held scoreless for 4 1/2 minutes as the Wildcats ran off 10 points. ACU led 41-36 at halftime.

Nelson hit two 3-pointers in the first minute of the second half to pull ENMU to 43-42, but Durant hit back-to-back jumpers to spark a 12-0 ACU run for a 55-42 cushion with 16 minutes left.

The Hounds then went on a 16-2 roll as Nelson scored eight points and put them in front 58-57 with a basket at the 9:07 mark.

McFarland scored in the lane with 5:05 left to give ENMU its final lead of the day at 65-63. ACU converted 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach.