Freedom New Mexico
SILVER CITY — The courts were reversed on Saturday, and essentially so were the roles.
Western New Mexico, which scored just two points in the first eight minutes against Eastern New Mexico University and trailed the entire way in the teams’ season opener Tuesday night at Greyhound Arena, turned everything around this time. After trailing briefly early in the game, the Mustangs opened a 12-point halftime lead, fought off an early ENMU run in the second half and cruised to a 76-64 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore guard Stefan Mirabel shot 9-of-19 from the floor and finished with 26 points, leading four Western players in double figures.
The Greyhounds, meantime, got 14 points from junior forward Tyler Jefferson and 10 from junior guard-forward Victor Reid.
Jefferson’s two free throws and field goal gave ENMU a 4-0 lead in the first 90 seconds. The teams traded the lead for several minutes, with guard Reggie Nelson’s layup putting ENMU ahead for the final time 16-14 with just under 13 minutes left in the half.
Western scored the next six points, then went on an 11-0 run fueled by five points from Mirabal to lead 33-20 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.
ENMU got as close as seven, but a 3-pointer in the final seconds by freshman guard Juan Sanchez gave the Mustangs a 43-31 lead at the break.
The Hounds opened the second half with an 8-0 to pull to 43-39, then missed a chance to get closer on their next possession. Mirabal then launched a 3-pointer with the shot clock running out, sparking a 16-5 surge that made it a 15-point margin with 10 minutes left.
ENMU shot 37 percent from the field, hitting only 5-of-27 from 3-point range, and also missed 11 free throws.
Guard Justin Williams added 13 points while forward Chuck Kempf and guard Tony Riley Jr. chipped in 11 apiece. Riley also had team highs with nine rebounds and three assists.
The Hounds return to action on Tuesday with a 6 p.m. (MST) contest at Lubbock Christian.