By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University played hard enough, just not quite well enough.
Talented Tarleton State took the lead for good late in the first half and fought off a feisty effort by the Greyhounds to post a 75-69 Lone Star Conference South Division victory Wednesday night at Greyhound Arena.
Guard Norbey Aragon led four Tarleton players in double figures with 19 points, while 6-foot-7 forwards John Davis (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Nic Gamble (15 and 11) added double-doubles.
Guard LeShon Sheffield, the Texans’ leading scorer, had an off-night with 11 points, hitting just 2-of-14 from the floor, but he posted a game-high six assists.
Tarleton State (15-4, 4-0 South) maintained first place in the division, but had to hold on down the stretch as the Hounds pushed them to the wire behind 10-of-19 shooting from 3-point range.
The Hounds (7-11, 1-2) got a season-best 21 points from junior guard Tristan Largent, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range, and 17 points and five assists from senior guard Jolen Montoya. But they couldn’t handle the Texans’ talented inside tandem. Junior forward Mikal Monette added 14 points and a team-best nine rebounds.
“We played hard, but we weren’t as efficient with our energy as we needed to be,” ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said. “For us to be successful tonight, we needed more people to do more in the big picture.
“I’m not going to fault our effort; the effort was good. We jjust need a few more people to give us what they can.”
Texans coach Lonn Reisman said he was just glad to get out with the win.
“Eastern New Mexico played well tonight,” said Reisman, whose team has wins over Division I foes Lamar and Texas Christian this season. “They deserved to win as much as anybody tonight.
“I’ve got to give their kids credit; they would not quit.”
Eastern jumped ahead 7-2 and 9-4, and still led 25-22 late in the half after a 3-point basket by Montoya.
But the Texans took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Aragon, one of four he made in the contest. That gave Tarleton a 30-27 lead, and the Texans carried a 35-31 margin into halftime.
ENMU pulled to 49-48 on two free throws by Travis Carr midway through the second half, but never could come all the way back. Tarleton held the Hounds off with the help of several offensive rebounds down the stretch, including two on missed free throws in the final 1 1/2 minutes.
“We got on the boards late in the game, and that was a big key for us,” Reisman said.
Despite their strong performance from long range, the Hounds finished at 41 percent overall on 26-of-63. Tarleton State also went 18-of-26 from the free throw line to 7-of-11 for ENMU.