By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
CLOVIS — For the second time in a week, the Eastern New Mexico University and Lubbock Christian men’s basketball teams played a tight, emotional game that came down to the end.
Last week at Lubbock, ENMU scored the final 14 points in Lubbock to pull out a five-point win. This time, though, the Chaparrals’ Jeremy Ford drained a 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired to give LCU a 72-69 win at Rock Staubus Gym.
What happened after that, however, was a little embarrassing for both sides.
With the teams lining up to shake hands, words were apparently exchanged and a brawl ensued, spreading from in front of the scorer’s table toward the LCU lockerroom on the opposite side of the floor.
ENMU athletic director Jeff Geiser said he planned to look at video of the fracus to determine exactly what happened.
“We’ll investigate it and find out who started it,” Geiser said. “If we started it, it’s really disappointing. Obviously, it was a great basketball game, and that kind of tarnished it.
“We want a good relationship with Lubbock Christian, and that certainly doesn’t help. That stuff is not going to happen at Eastern athletics, and we’ll deal with it.”
Freshman forward Isaac Cardona led three players in double figures for the Chaps (3-1) with 16 points, including 12 of his team’s first 19. Senior forward Eli Baker added 15 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, while sophomore guard A.J. Luckey finished with 13 points.
Senior forward Cornelius Cammack and senior guard Rodney Blackmon scored 13 points each for the Hounds (2-2). Blackmon hit three consecutive 3-pointers to key an 11-0 run that put the Hounds in front 20-15 midway through the first half, but the Chaps held the duo to a combined three second-half points — a Blackmon 3-pointer — in erasing a six-point halftime deficit.
ENMU trailed 60-51 with seven minutes left, rallied to tie the game late, then fell behind 69-65 on two free throws by Ford with 29 seconds left. Senior guard Devone Davis made 1-of-2 free throws after being fouled on a drive to the basket, but senior Rafael Love rebounded the second missed shot and Davis found senior Kyle Lantz for a 3-pointer from the key with six seconds to go to tie it.
Ford took the inbounds pass up the left sideline and launched a deep, challenged 3 as time expired, finding the net.
“It’s just disappointing,” ENMU coach Andrew Helton said, referring to the post-game antics. “As far as the game itself, the first five minutes of the second half (LCU outscored the Hounds 16-6 to take a four-point lead with 14 minutes left) was the ballgame. We were up six (at the half) and we weren’t ready to play.”
LCU coach Todd Duncan said the post-game situation took away from the win.
“Eastern made great plays to win at Lubbock, and I thought our guys made great plays all night,” he said. “(The brawl) is just unfortunate. It’s hard to comment on that, and I have no idea.
“I know coach Helton is a good man, and I respect the job he does. There’s just no place for that in any environment.”