By Dave Wagner
LAS CRUCES — The Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team played well most of the way, but Division I New Mexico State sank 8-of-13 second-half 3-pointers and got huge lifts off the bench from senior guards Duane John and Bryant Funston to pull away for an 86-76 win Thursday night at the Pan American Center.
Down 20-8 six minutes into the game, the Greyhounds (4-7) used a 10-0 run late in the half to lead 33-30 and held a 42-40 margin at halftime.
“I’m never happy to lose a game, but I really thought we competed for 40 minutes,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said. “I think we competed at a pretty high level, and we weren’t intimidated.”
John and the little-used Funston each scored nine points as the Aggies (4-7) rallied from a four-point, second-half deficit to end a five-game losing streak.
Guard Mike Mitchell scored 18 points for NMSU, while John finished with 15 and 6-foot-10 center Trevor Lawrence added 12.
But the Greyhounds, who lost by 34 points here last season, made a game of it most of the way. Mitchell’s 3-point play broke the game’s final tie with 15:07 left and the Aggies pulled away with six 3-pointers in the remaining time, including two each by John and senior guard Allen Haynes.
“It was a good win,” NMSU interim head coach Tony Stubblefield said. “We needed a win, and our guys came out and played hard.”
Funston’s points came as a surprise — he had scored only six points in seven previous appearances this season.
“Bryant works hard every day,” Stubblefield said. “He always comes to work every day and he plays hard.”
ENMU, meantime, put six players in double figures, led by senior forward Jamaal Hunnicutt, who posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Jason Breland added 14 points and senior guard Jamal Washington 11 off the bench, while starters Jolen Montoya, Irshaun Pinckney and Billy Austin scored 10 apiece.
ENMU shot 63 percent in the first half and 48 percent for the game, making 8-of-17 3-pointers. The Aggies shot 53 percent and finished 13-of-25 from beyond the arc.