PORTALES —It didn’t take long for Eastern New Mexico University’s men to break open a tight game on Saturday.
Junior guard Rodney Blackmon and freshman forward Lawrence Domingo scored 21 points each and junior guard Rodney Love posted his sixth double-double of the season with 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Greyhounds rode a six-minute, 16-0 run in the second half for an 86-70 Lone Star Conference win Incarnate Word at Greyhound Arena.
It’s the first time this season the Hounds (11-13, 8-8 LSC) have had three players with 20 or more points in the same game.
Love (seven) and Domingo (six) combined for 13 points in the game-breaking run that pushed the Hounds from a tie into a 79-63 lead with three minutes left in avenging a 93-75 loss to the Cardinals (13-11, 9-7) in January.
“I’m just happy we won,” said ENMU coach Andrew Helton, whose team dropped a 66-62 home decision to Texas A&M-Kingsville on Thursday. “We played good tonight — we shot it good, we passed it good.”
The Hounds are now fifth by themselves in the LSC, trailing UIW and Tarleton State (16-8, 9-7) by one game, and one game ahead of West Texas A&M, Texas A&M-Commerce and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
The Hounds, under 40 percent shooting from the floor at halftime, went 21-for-32 from the floor in the second half. Domingo, whose previous high was 16, scored 14 of his points in the final 20 minutes by making good cuts to the basket and getting solid feeds from his teammates.
“I just knew we needed to come up strong in the second half,” said Domingo, who is from Union City, Calif. “Coach really likes me working the baseline, and at halftime I knew I needed to step up.
“We just want to finish off the rest of the season strong.”
The Hounds saw an early 12-point lead game away, then led 37-36 at the half before falling behind by five points with 15 minutes left. They rallied to regain the lead, watched the Cardinals tie it behind consecutive 3-pointers from junior guard Andre Corley, then took off to quickly put the game out of reach.
“We responded (to UIW’s runs),” said Love, who shot 8-for-14 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, and added four steals in 37 minutes. “Usually when a team makes runs at us we kind of fold, but today we picked it up.”
The Cardinals, coming off a two-point win at West Texas A&M on Thursday, seemed to run out of gas at the end.
“We’ve got to be able to put teams away,” Love said. “We’re trying to make that a point of emphasis.”
Corley and guard Dionelle Rucker led four Cardinals in double figures with 18 points apiece. Corley went 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point distance.
With two games left, the Hounds — picked for last in the 10-team league in preseason — could finish as high as third or as low as eighth heading into the LSC meet early next month in Allen, Texas. Still, it may not matter that much — all the teams, especially behind first-place Midwestern State, have shown the ability to beat any of the others on a given night.
“We’re confident playing anybody,” Love said. “But just for us personally, we want to finish in the top half to prove people wrong.”