By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
PORTALES — Guard Aaron Arango hit 8-of-12 shots from 3-point range and scored 26 points Thursday night, lifting Northeastern State to a 71-58 Lone Star Conference men’s crossover victory over Eastern New Mexico University Thursday night at Greyhound Arena.
Northeastern State (1-4), coming in averaging 57 points and shooting 40 percent from the field, shot 49 percent overall and went 14-for-27 from 3-point range against the Greyhounds. Arango was the RiverHawks’ leading scorer coming in at just 10.3 points per game.
ENMU (2-4) had its two-game winning streak snapped.
“I think we thought we played good Saturday night (in a 66-65 win over New Mexico Highlands), but that team just missed those same shots,” ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said. “Shooters are supposed to hit shots when they’re open, and Northeastern did a good job of it.”
Kelvin Franklin, who led the Hounds with a season-best 26 points, hit a 3-pointer in the first minute, but that was Eastern’s only lead. Arango’s third 3-pointer broke the third tie of the night and put the RiverHawks ahead for good 11-8.
“We’re just happy to have a win,” RiverHawks coach Larry Gipson said. “For the most part, we controlled the game.”
Gipson and Scanlan said that while Arango had struggled so far this season, he is a capable player.
“Aaron is a guy that hasn’t played very well (this season), but he had a good junior year,” Gipson said. “I was happy to see the production we got out of him.”
Northeastern extended a 12-point halftime lead to 58-37 with 9:26 left on two free throws by Ben Rovenstine, then survived a five-minute scoreless stretch. ENMU pared the margin to 10 points on a basket by Franklin with 3:24 left before the Riverhakws pulled away by hitting 6-of-8 free throws late.
Six-foot-7 junior forward Jessie Scroggins came off the bench to add 13 points for Northeastern, while Rovenstine finished with 10.
No one other than Franklin had more than seven points for ENMU, which shot 38 percent from the floor.
“We’re just not playing very well,” Scanlan said. “When you play better teams, your mistakes become more obvious.”