CANYON, Texas — The West Texas A&M men’s basketball team may have clinched a spot in the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament Saturday night, but the Buffaloes got a bit more than they expected from an undermanned Eastern New Mexico University squad.
Senior forward Chris Hinz scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and WT outscored the Greyhounds 31-16 over the final 9 1/2 minutes for a 72-58 South Division victory before nearly 2,000 spectators at WT’s First United Bank Center.
Playing with only seven players — just four of whom were on the team in the first semester — the Hounds (6-18, 0-9 South) scored the game’s first six points and stayed right with the Buffs (18-6, 8-1) until the final 10 minutes.
Senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter scored 32 points — one short of his career high set earlier this season at Southwestern Oklahoma — and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Hounds. Junior guard Marquis Ruffin added 12 points and senior forward Kendall Clark 10, accounting for all but four of the team’s total.
Senior guard Robert Lee added 16 points and eight rebounds while senior forward Tyler Cooper had 10 points and nine boards for the Buffs.
Redman-Trotter hit two free throws at the 16:56 mark and then added baskets on the next two trips to stake the Hounds to their early lead. WT responded with an 8-0 run, but the teams battled back and forth for the rest of the half.
Lee’s basket with two seconds left staked WT to a 24-21 halftime lead.
The Buffs went up by seven twice early in the second half, but ENMU put together a 12-5 run and forged in front 42-41 on Clark’s basket off a Redman-Trotter assist with 10:16 to go. Two possessions later, Ben Doherty’s free throw tied it, and on WT’s next possession Lee knocked down two charity tosses to give the Buffs the lead for good.
WT got the lead up to double figures for the first time (57-47) on a layup by senior guard Pierre Barlow with 4:13 left.
The Buffs, held to 36 percent shooting in the first half, went 16-for-27 from the field in the second half and added 13-of-18 from the free throw line.