PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s men know where they’ll be seeded in next week’s Lone Star Conference basketball tournament.
Now, they hope more reinforcements are on the way.
Senior guard Reggie Nelson returned from a two-game suspension to score 23 points and junior point guard Devone Davis converted a go-ahead 3-point play with 53 seconds left, lifting the Greyhounds past Cameron 67-65 at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (14-12, 7-10 LSC), which ended a four-game losing streak and assured its first .500 season since winning the then-LSC South Division in 2004, clinched the No. 6 seed in the eight-team event scheduled for Feb. 29-March 4 at Allen, Texas.
“They’re a good team, and they played good,” ENMU coach Andrew Helton said of the Aggies (13-10, 9-7). “I was very happy with our team. We showed a lot of heart tonight.”
The Hounds overcame a 12-point deficit with 13 minutes left and still trailed 60-51 with six minutes remaining before Davis found sophomore guard Kyle Lantz for back-to-back 3-pointers out of the left corner.
Nelson converted two free throws and hit a short running bank shot to tie the score 61-61 with 2:08 left. Curtis Wilkinson then forced a tie-up to keep possession after a missed 3 by Nelson, and Davis slithered down the lane to score and convert a free throw to give the Hounds their first lead since 2-0.
“Kyle Lantz made two huge 3s, and Reggie and Mick (Davis) in the second half just made play after play,” Helton said. “I was happy for our (six) seniors to be able to win in their final home game.”
Helton is hoping to get at least a couple of his four injured players back for next week’s tournament, but the Hounds have managed to compete with six players doing most of the playing.
“You’ve got to play smart,” Davis said of playing short-handed. “But this gives us confident going into the tournament.
“I think if we can get one or two of our big guys back, that’ll help.”
Lantz finished with 11 points and Wilkinson added 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Hounds, although he was just 2-of-13 from the foul line.
Sophomore guard Desmond Henry scored 16 points for the Aggies, but ENMU held conference scoring leader Milton Garner to 12 points, seven under his average, on 4-of-15 from the floor.
Cameron shot well early, and went 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half after sophomore guard Craig Foster banked in a last-second 3-pointer from near the left sideline — his only shot of the game — for a 37-30 halftime lead.
“That put us in a hole,” Davis acknowledged, “but we took pride in our defense (in the second half) and it helped us win.”
Nelson went 3-of-4 from the line in the final 30 seconds to help seal the deal. Trailing by three, Garner was fouled with 1.2 seconds left and intentionally missed the second shot, but Wilkinson tipped the rebound to Lantz as time ran out.