It was a game of runs, and one where Eastern New Mexico University's men were run off their own court.
Midwestern State opened the game with a 9-0 blitz, held off Greyhounds comebacks with two separate 8-0 runs before the half, and used a 13-0 burst to blow open what turned into an 82-53 Lone Star Conference rout on Monday at Greyhound Arena.
Corbin Thomas scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and added eight rebounds for the Mustangs (8-3, 4-0 LSC), who never trailed and shot 65 percent in the second half to hand the Greyhounds their worst home loss since an 87-55 setback to Emporia State in the 2008-09 home opener.
On an early New Year's Eve game, it was looking more like Groundhog Day as the Greyhounds (5-7, 2-2) would rally to pull close or even, only to watch the Mustangs rally right back to a comfortable lead.
"When you're up that early, even as a coach, you're worried because you know … your guys are going to have some kind of letdown, and the other team is in desperation (mode)," Midwestern coach Nelson Haggerty said. "They turned it up, and they were able to get to the basket and make some tough plays.
"We felt like we had some opportunities to stretch the game out. It's just part of the game. This game's about runs, and you've just got to play until the buzzer goes off."
Kevin Grayer added 17 points for the Mustangs, including a exclamation point sequence when he snatched a loose ball near midcourt and took off from just outside the lane for a one-handed flush with 6:23 left.
Greyhounds coach Andrew Helton, visibly frustrated throughout the second half, had already pulled his starters three minutes prior after guard Monzaigo Williams turned a steal into a three-point play that pushed the lead to 59-42 and sent much of the crowd heading to the exits.
"I think they played, coming off the break, very well, and I thought we played really badly," Helton said. "When you have those two things, sometimes that happens."
Guard Kyle Lantz was Eastern's only double-figure scorer with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Haggerty thought the keys to a the game were getting off to an early start, because the Mustangs have had to play from behind in many second halves this year, and guarding the 3-point line because the Greyhounds came in second in the LSC in 3-point shooting. The Hounds shot just 4-of-18 from beyond the arc.
"It's a great scout by (assistant) coach (Tres) Segler," Haggerty said. "I felt like we guarded the 3-point line very well. We didn't want to allow these guys to get any looks or play freely. They do such a great job offensively, and when they're free to shoot, free to make plays from the 3 line, they're a really hard team to beat. Even if we got a guy picked, we had a secondary guy challenging the shot."