WNMU took on cross state ‘rival’ Eastern New Mexico in the Division II Classic held at the Pit in Albuquerque last night. It was supposed to be another small college showcase for the four small schools in NM but Highlands and Northern NM apparently didn’t want to participate so that left both men’s and women’s teams from WNMU & ENMU on the floor.
WNMU was coming off of a couple of unimpressive performances to start the season while Eastern was 2-2 with their losses coming last weekend against RMAC teams, CSU Pueblo and Ft. Lewis. ENMU is a high paced push the tempo team; think Loyola Marymount in the 80’s or any Paul Westphal coached team. They not only try to get lay ups but they also shoot the three in transition. Eastern had already taken 130 three point shots in 4 games, 23 a contest, while WNMU had taken a total of 23 three point shots in 2 games. Not many teams take 23 long shots in a game.
Coach Law wasn’t too worried about the fast pace, despite a shallow bench, believing that the Stangs only had to slow down the Greyhounds a little bit. Turned out he was right. WNMU took advantage of their opportunities on fast breaks throughout the night, especially early in the game as the guards for WNMU were hitting the boards hard, off of long rebounds especially, and WNMU was able to stay in the game.
Marcos Castrillo was unstoppable in the paint. Eastern didn’t have an answer for him in the post, low or high. Castrillo is able to hit the jump hook with both hands and has a soft touch facing the bucket. You can say he carried the team but it would be more accurate to say WNMU fed him the ball and dared Eastern to stop him.
Gavin Wood came off the bench to hit for 14 points, the only other Mustang in double figures. That’s what Coach wants from the freshman. Brandon Tanter and Brandon Williams each had solid games giving the Mustangs energy on both sides of the floor and you can see them getting more comfortable on the court after their red shirt seasons.
Having Terrez Scott back on the floor was also a big help as his presence, especially early, calmed the team down and gave them a sense of confidence. He was able to penetrate and dish or find others allowing them to score. When he went to the bench with foul trouble, the Brandons were able to keep things going, especially in the second half.
WNMU fell behind in the second half but was able to rally and had their chances late, but with 5 players fouling out, including Terrez and Steven Louckes, that left a line up in the game that hadn’t played a lot together. But Western was there to the end and Eastern hit their free throws late to hold off the Mustangs.
Louckes never really got going as he was in foul trouble early and Shea got points but not enough boards. He was pretty strong defensively though. The Mustang bench is very shallow and a couple of players seemed to be really nervous which led to turnovers and missed assignments defensively.
WNMU was able to rebound well and had a positive assist to turnover ratio for the first time this season. They hit 77% from the charity stripe which will help them win games that are close. Going to the high screen and roll in the second really opened things up for WNMU and sparked the rally that brought them back from 19 pts down.
It’s a loss and that’s not what we’re here for but WNMU seemed to play more as a unit and with an energy throughout the game that will make them competitive. The key now is to get the win in a close game and not just settle for being in the game. I know that Scott and Castrillo were not happy, despite having very good games. If Castrillo keeps playing with the confidence he showed last night, WNMU will win some games this year.