WT Buffs drop key conference game

The West Texas A&M Buffaloes took a five point lead into the locker room at the half but the potent offense of Eastern New Mexico shot their way to a 71-57 Lone Star Conference win on Saturday night in front of almost 1,300 fans at the First United Bank Center in Canyon, Texas. The Buffs fall to 12-6 (4-6 LSC) while the Greyhounds improve to 7-11 (4-6 LSC) on the season.

The win splits the season series between the two as the Buffs topped the Hounds on Wednesday night in Portales in an overtime thriller. The decision marks just the third ENMU win since December 1, 2012 and it lifts the Buffs and Hounds into a tie for sixth place in the Lone Star Conference.

The game started off with both offenses hitting big shots early as Mason White started off the WT scoring with a three from the wing as the fast pace of the game started from the opening tip with 29 points scored in the opening eight minutes as the Greyhounds took the 16-13 lead heading into the under-12 minute media timeout with 11:13 left.

Tez Dumars cut into the ENMU lead after the break with a layup off a pass from Darnell Jackson followed by an Eastern offensive foul, the Buffs couldnâ??t turn the mistake into points as they turned the ball over themselves at the other end of the court. White gave the Buffs the lead once again with a layup followed by a Hound turnover that led to a Donald Sims fast break layup to give WT the 19-18 lead with 7:52 left.

The Buffs used a pair of Sims free throws followed by back-to-back layups by Kennon Washington to extend their lead to 25-20 to head into the under-four minute media timeout with 3:56 remaining. The Buffs used the power of the charity stripe in the next few minutes before the Hounds responded to cut the WT lead to 27-24 before a White jumper off of the glass before the break to give WT the 29-24 lead heading into the locker room.

The Buffs were led at the half by White with nine points followed by Sims with eight points and five rebounds. WT went 12-of-27 from the floor including 1-of-7 from deep and 4-of-8 from the free throw line to shoot 44.4% in the opening half.

The Greyhounds were led by Jordan Awoye with a game leading 10 points and five rebounds followed by Greg McFarland with six points. Eastern went 10-of-27 from the floor including 2-of-8 from deep and 2-of-4 from the free throw line to shoot 37% in the opening twenty minutes.

The second half saw Sims take over early as he registered the Buffsâ?? first four points but the Hounds answered with nine of their own to tie the game at 33-33 with just over 16 minutes remaining. Barry Johnson used all of the shot clock on the next possession as he drained a jumper just inside the arc followed by an ENMU turnover to force the first media timeout of the half with WT leading 35-33.

Easternâ??s standout Rodney Blackmon connected on his second bucket of the game with a reverse layup but White answered with a jumper of his own, Blackmon struck again on the next possession before a Nate Drayton jumper. The Hounds registered the next four points before Dumars drew a charge in the lane to swing the momentum back to WT as the sophomore connected on a layup to head into the under-12 minute media timeout with the teams tied at 43-43.

The Hounds took control in the next few minutes as they registered six of the next nine points highlighted by a Blackmon pull-up three before the Buffs used a Jackson layup and a White three from the top of the key to cut the WT lead to 49-48. Eastern answered with five points including a Rafael Love three to head into the under-eight minute media timeout with the Hounds leading 54-48 with 6:30 left.

The Buffs missed the opportunity to score after the break at the free throw line which led to a three in the corner by Easternâ??s Kyle Lantz, Washington nailed a pair of free throws to cut into the Eastern lead but Blackmon struck again with a layup on the other end. Dumars nailed a contested three at the top of the key following an ENMU turnover but the Hounds registered the next four points before a Sims board and putback to head into the final media timeout with Eastern leading 64-55 with 1:31 left. The final minutes saw the Hounds excel at the free throw line as they took the game, 71-57.

The Buffs were led by Sims with his ninth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds followed by White with 14 points. West Texas A&M went 24-of-60 from the floor including 3-of-18 from deep and 6-of-13 from the free throw line to shoot 40% on the night.

Eastern New Mexico was led by Blackmon with 21 points followed by Lantz and Awoye with 10 points each. The Greyhounds went 26-of-49 from the floor including 6-of-15 from deep and 13-of-19 from the charity stripe to shoot 53.1% in the game including 72.7% (16-of-22) in the second half.

The Buffs return to action on Tuesday night as they travel to Abilene, Texas to face off with the Wildcats of Abilene Christian for the final time at Moody Coliseum as Division II rivals with the Lady Buffs and Wildcats starting things off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men at 7:30 p.m.