Emporia State took the suspense away early in Monday’s game at Greyhound Arena.
Hitting 15 of your first 21 shots, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, tends to do that.
The Hornets opened a 12-2 margin in less than 4 1/2 minutes and never looked back in laying an 87-55 pasting on Eastern New Mexico University in the Greyhounds’ home opener.
Six-foot-5 junior forward Jeremiah Box scored from all over the floor, pouring in 28 points and finishing with a game-high six assists. He shot 11-of-15 from the field, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range.
The Hornets (1-0), coming off exhibition losses to Kansas Division I compatriots Wichita State and defending national champion Kansas, did little wrong from the get-go. They play Kansas’ other D-I school, Kansas State, in a regular game on Wednesday night before settling into their Division II routine.
“It helped us being able to come off those games where you get exposed a little bit,” Hornets coach David Moe said. “We made some shots early and kept Eastern New Mexico on their heels.”
While Emporia blistered the nets at a 57 percent clip for the game, including 14-of-25 from beyond the arc, the Hounds (0-2) struggled to get into their offense all night. They shot 38 percent in the first half, and finished the game 1-for-10 on 3-pointers and just 10-for-20 from the free throw line.
“We didn’t do a good job in much of anything,” ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said. “We didn’t do a good job with the things we had control over.”
Junior guard Robert Moores came off the bench for 16 points, including four 3-pointers. He hit back-to-back treys to push the Hornets’ lead into double figures for good with less than six minutes gone.
“Our patience was good tonight,” said Moe, the son of former longtime NBA coach Doug Moe. “Defensively, we were doing the things we need to do.
“You get nervous any time yo go on the road, but it’s a totally different perception (at ENMU as opposed to the D-I schools).”
Emporia State was picked for eighth in the rugged Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, and Moe said he thinks that’s about right. Another MIAA squad, Southwest Baptist, went into Utah on Saturday and upended the Utes 80-79.
“From top to bottom, our league is unbelievably competitive,” Moe said.
Meantime, the Hounds have to go back to the drawing board.
“Emporia State did a good job early of seizing control and exposing us,” Scanlan said of his almost-all-new squad. “We’re not in very good shape right now, and we’re not very tough.”
Junior Equs Darby shot 6-of-7 from the floor and finished with 13 points for ENMU, while guard Aaron King added 11 points.