Rodney Blackmon’s layup drive to the basket with a second remaining in regulation sealed a 62-60 victory for Eastern New Mexico over Abilene Christian Saturday night at Moody Coliseum.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for the Wildcats (4-2, 1-1 LSC), while the Greyhounds improved to 5-3 and 2-0 within the Lone Star Conference.
ACU battled all the way back from an eight-point deficit in the second half to tie the score twice during the final minute and 38 seconds, but the defense couldn’t get the stop it needed as Blackmon swooped past his defender to hook in a layup in from the left side. On ACU’s ensuing possession with 1.9 seconds left, the ball was tipped away under the basket as several players battled for control.
Despite being a few nights removed from a big win at West Texas, in which they shot .558 from the floor and .438 from 3-point range, the Wildcats tonight were unable to deliver an encore performance for their home crowd. ACU missed nine of 11 treys in the first half and was even colder in the second, going 1 of 7.
The Greyhounds, meanwhile, made 6 of their 10 second-half 3-pointers and used a 26-12 run to flip a six-point deficit with 2:18 before halftime into their largest lead of the night at 48-40 and 10:39 to go. Rafael Love scored 10 of his 12 points within the first 10 minutes of the second half and was one of four Greyhounds to finish in double figures along with Blackmon, Dennis Hardwell and Jordan Romero, who led all scorers with 17 points.
ACU started the game in good shape and at one point took off on a 12-0 run over a four-minute span to grab a 22-13 lead. Eric Lawton answered Romero’s back-to-back 3-pointers with one of his own, and then freshman Tyler Rogers connected from downtown only a minute later. Dosh Simms sank consecutive layups in pushing the lead to seven and senior guard Elliott Lloyd capped the rally with a bucket at the 7:40 mark.
Eastern followed with a 6-0 run to get back within three, but freshman T.J. Brown hit a layup that made it a two-possession game. With 2:18 left, rookie Parker Wentz capitalized on a steal by Caleb Carr and ran the ball in for a fast-break layup. Unfortunately, ACU wouldn’t make another field goal until the 16:29 mark of the second half.
Lloyd shared the team lead in points with 10 with Cornelius Cammock, while senior center Steven Werner pulled down the most rebounds with 13. ACU easily won the rebounding war, 42-28, but was ultimately doomed by its poor 3-point shooting as well as an 11-for-18 performance from the free-throw line.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. vs. Texas A&M-Commerce for the second-annual Christmas Slam. The acrobatic slam-dunk performers from Team BIG AIR will headline this year's event with a high-flying show presented at halftime of the men's game.
Additional treats at this year's Slam include photos with Santa Claus, free food and drinks provided by ACU's student clubs and organizations, free pizza to the first 200 students in attendance, and a Christmas blessing from ACU President Dr. Phil Schubert.
Gift cards to Tin Cup and Shady Oaks golf courses, Primetime Family Entertainment Center, Xtreme Car Wash, Cotton Patch and Buffalo Wild Wings also will be given away.
Tickets start at $10 for adults and $5 for children 18 and under, with discounts being provided to church groups, military personnel, AYBA players and their families, as well as faculty and staff representing ACU and the Abilene Independent School District.
Fans who bring unwrapped toys and children's undergarments for Arms of Hope or canned food for the KRBC Share Your Christmas Food Drive will also receive $5 tickets.
Information provided by ACU athletics department.