By Dave Wagner
Preseason conditioning can be real drudgery, and Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan is known to crack the whip.
As far as Greyhounds senior Garland Coleman is concerned, though, all that work was worth it Saturday night when ENMU went four overtimes to eke out a 91-89 win over Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.
ENMU (5-3) has now won three in a row — all on the road, and by a total of four points.
“All I kept thinking is, ‘I don’t want to lose; I don’t want to lose,” said Coleman, who had team highs of 22 points and seven assists. “All that preseason running came into effect. Nobody quit; we fought like heck.”
Coleman’s 3-point basket as time expired in the first overtime — the first of his college career — tied the score at 70 and set the stage for the wild action to follow. The basket came after UIW (6-2), which has suffered both of its losses to the Hounds, had taken a three-point lead on two free throws by forward Robert Tovar with 16 seconds to go.
“I didn’t know how much time was left,” Coleman said. “I just flashed my hands and Jamal (Washington) passed me the ball. Fortunately, it went in.”
Coleman never did foul out despite having four fouls before the end of regulation, although he did have to come out for a couple of minutes in the fourth OT due to leg cramps. Walkon junior Paul “P.J.” Forrest filled in adequately before Coleman returned to finish the game.
“Garland’s just a warrior,” Scanlan said. “He gives you a lot. He’s just a good defender and he gives you steady play on that end of the court.”
Scanlan said that while both teams played hard, it wasn’t a thing of beauty. The Hounds missed 14 free throws, shot just under 40 percent from the field, committed 25 turnovers and gave up 16 offensive rebounds.
“We did stuff we don’t normally do, but we competed like bandits,” Scanlan said.
Junior forward Travazz Buckley, playing his first game after gaining his eligibility on Friday, came through with 21 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Buckley has practiced with the team most of the fall, but hadn’t had much work lately because of ENMU’s recent travel schedule and the fact that finals were being taken during the past week.
Buckley’s presence helped make up for the absence of junior forward Edmound Elzy, who did not play due to a sprained ankle.
“He gives us quite a few good things,” Scanlan said of the 6-foot-5 junior college transfer. “I was concerned because he hadn’t practiced much over the last two weeks.”
Coleman noted the importance of doing well prior to the start of Lone Star Conference South Division play. Last year, the Hounds lost six of their first 10 games and missed out on the postseason despite a 16-2 finish.
“It’s good to be able to play these games now and be able to win on the road,” Coleman said. “We knew it was going to be tough after we beat them here, but we learned last year that you need to win all the games you can before conference play in order to be able to make the regionals.”