DBy Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan got the defensive effort he wanted to see.
Scanlan shuffled his starting lineup, and the Greyhounds responded Thursday by holding Texas A&M-Kingsville to 39-percent field goal shooting and rallied for a 63-60 Lone Star Conference South Division victory at Greyhound Arena.
Junior post Mikal Monette scored 17 points for the Hounds (9-12, 3-3 South), who finished the game on a 9-2 run to overtake the Javelinas in a seesaw contest.
“We shook it up a little bit,” said Scanlan, who replaced freshman forward Jake Holladay with junior Chad Donnell and junior guard Stephen Wilson with freshman Josh Jackson in the starting lineup after Monday’s 93-81 loss at West Texas A&M. “The most rewarding thing about this is defense is what we addressed exclusively in practice the last two days.”
Junior guard Tristan Largent added 14 points for Eastern and senior guard Jolen Montoya, who struggled much of the night before making some big plays late, added 11.
Holladay, scoreless at halftime, collected 10 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers to turn a 40-39 deficit into a 46-40 lead with 12 minutes left.
“I played guard in high school (at Gilmer, Texas), so I like to shoot 3s,” said the 6-foot-6 Holladay. “If I’m open, I’ll take them.”
Montoya made a 3-pointer, then set up Jackson for another 3 to give the Hounds a 60-58 lead with 2:50 left.
Meantime, Jackson, a 6-foot guard from Madison, Wis., contributed seven points and eight rebounds. He also defended Kingsville’s Remi Yusuf on the final possession, forcing a long, off-balance shot from the key, and then collected the rebound in a scramble near the free throw line.
Jackson was fouled on the play with 1.3 seconds left, and made both shots for a three-point lead.
“We’re back in the (South Division) mix,” Holladay said of the win. “If we can get a win on Monday (at home against WT), we can put ourselves in good shape.”
Scanlan praised the play of Holladay and Jackson.
“They’re both freshmen, and we’ve been looking for them to make a difference,” he said. “Hopefully, this will carry over in conference play and give us two more sources we can go to.”
Kingsville (13-7, 3-2) got 17 points from Yusuf and 16 from forward Bobby Pandy.
“We wanted to give ourselves a chance on the road, and we did that,” Kingsville coach Pete Peterson said. “No. 23 (Holladay) hit two big 3s, and then they got the other ones late.
“I thought we played pretty good defense for the most part. They really executed their sets well tonight, and I thought they did a good job on defense.”
ENMU fell behind by four points early, but held the Javelinas without a field goal for a five-minute stretch in going on a 13-2 run. Monette had five points as ENMU grabbed a 22-15 lead.
After a layup by Monette on a feed from Largent made it 24-17 with 5:25 to go, the Hounds went the rest of the half without a field goal. Kingsville took the lead with a 10-0 run, but two free throws apiece by Montoya and Largent kept the Hounds within 29-28 at the break.