Hounds drop OT decision to RiverHawks

CNJ staff

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Junior guard Ricky Branham hit a go-ahead 3-pointer early in overtime and Northeastern State pulled away for a 77-68 Lone Star Conference men’s crossover victory over Eastern New Mexico University Thursday night.

The Greyhounds (2-6), losing their fifth game in a row, dug themselves out of a 17-point, first-half hole and led several times down the stretch. But they were unable to put away the RiverHawks (5-4).

Steve Neal, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Northeastern, which shot 3-for-4 from the field, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range, and 6-for-6 from the free throw line in outscoring the Hounds 14-5 in the extra session.

Guard Mike Bontrager added five 3-pointers and 19 points for the RiverHawks. Branham scored 17 points while 6-8 center Joe Martinez came off the bench for a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds for Northeastern, which came into the game with no one averaging in double figures.

Senior Kevin Davis led the Hounds with 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting in 41 minutes. Senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter had 15 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes, while guard Jamaal McCoy scored 12 points.

ENMU scored the game’s first four points, but the RiverHawks then went on a 27-6 run to lead by 17 with six minutes left in the half.

The Hounds pulled to 32-21 at halftime, but were still down by 12 with 14 minutes left before baskets by Marquis Ruffin and McCoy around a 3-pointer by Redman-Trotter pulled them to 45-40.

After a basket by Martinez, the Hounds scored the next six points to close within 47-46. They went in front 51-50 on Kendall Clark’s basket with 8:33 to go, and exchanged the lead with the RiverHawks several times down the stretch.

Freshman Matt Churchman scooped up a loose ball and scored to give the Hounds a 62-61 lead with 2:43 to go. Davis added 1-of-2 from the line with 42 seconds left, but Neal’s basket tied it 19 seconds later.

Redman-Trotter missed a 3-pointer from the key with five seconds left, and the game went into overtime.

Redman-Trotter scored just over a minute into the extra session, but Branham drained his go-ahead trey 10 seconds later, keying a 14-1 RiverHawks run that also included a 3-pointer by Bontrager.

ENMU committed only 11 turnovers in the game, and shot 60 percent in the second half to get back in the game after hitting only 9-of-27 shots in the opening half, including 0-of-6 from 3-point range.