SAN ANTONIO — Guards Steven Mirabal and Versia Hodges each hit two free throws in the final 17 seconds Monday night and Eastern New Mexico University’s men improved their chances of reaching the Lone Star Conference tournament with a 96-91 LSC South decision over Incarnate Word.
ENMU (12-12, 7-5 South) moved into a four-way tie for second after division champion Tarleton State edged Midwestern State 49-47 on Monday in Wichita Falls, Texas. The Greyhounds are tied with the Mustangs, West Texas A&M and Angelo State.
They likely still need to win one of their two remaining games — at Texas A&M-Kingsville on Wednesday night, at home against West Texas A&M on Saturday — to ensure one of four South bids to the LSC event March 3-6 at Bartlesville, Okla. A sweep would give the Hounds no worse than the No. 3 seed from the South.
ENMU improved to 7-4 on the road this season, compared with 5-7 at Greyhound Arena.
Junior forward Aaron Edwards scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench for the Hounds. Mirabal had 20 points and seven assists, junior guard Tralyn Harden went 5-for-9 from 3-point range and finished with 19 points and junior post Max Carrier had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
UIW (16-8, 5-7), which lost its second home game in three days but only its third of the season, put six players in double figures led by 21 points from 6-foot-7 junior forward Chris Johnson.
ENMU scored the game’s first 10 points and led by 10 again at 22-12, but the Cardinals went on a 15-1 run to take their first lead and were in front 43-40 at halftime.
The Hounds shot 37 percent from the floor, including 3-of-16 from 3-point range, in the opening half. In the second half, they went 19-for-30 overall and 6-of-12 from long distance.
Down 49-42, the Hounds put together a 12-1 spurt and led 54-50 after a 3-pointer by Mirabal. They led most of the way after that, but didn’t take the lead for good until two free throws by Edwards broke a 74-74 tie with 5:57 to go and kicked off a 14-4 spurt.
UIW scored seven consecutive points to pull to 92-89 with 20 seconds to go before the Hounds finished it off at the line, where they went 21-of-26 for the game.