Highlanders slip against New Mexico, pound DFW Prep in Joe White Classic
The No. 23 McLennan Highlanders headed north on I-35 Friday afternoon for an early-season tilt with the New Mexico Thunderbirds, an NJCAA Region V foe, at the Joe White Classic on the campus of Hill College. It was a hard-fought battle from start to finish with the Thunderbirds picking up the five-point victory over the Highlanders, 79-74.
New Mexico opened the game on an 8-0 run highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Tavion Robinson. McLennan responded with an 8-0 run of its own capped off by a baseline floater by Javen Hedgeman to tie the game with 17:05 to play in the first. New Mexico led 15-13 with 14:13 on the clock. Sasa Vuksanvic jumpstarted the Highlanders' offense with back-to-back assists from under the goal out to Antoine Banks and Aaron Gregg for 3-pointers. McLennan used an 11-0 run to take the 24-15 lead, its largest of the game, with 10:44 to play in the first half. The Thunderbirds chipped away at the Highlanders' lead down the stretch, tying the game at 34 with 3:15 to play. New Mexico ended the half on an 8-2 run to take the 42-36 advantage at the break.
McLennan came out of the locker room fired up. Xaiver Armstead drained a 3-pointer off another assist from Vuksanvic to start a 7-1 run and tie the game at 42 with 17:53 remaining. New Mexico pulled away, leading by as many as eight, 57-49, midway through the half. The Highlanders didn't back down and used a 9-0 run capped off by another Hedgeman 3-pointer to take the one-point lead with 8:11 to play, 58-57. The game was tied at 64 with 5:28 to play. Another Armstead 3-pointer from the elbow put McLennan up by three. A Robinson bucket followed by a pair of free throws each from Paul Williams and Antonio Morales swung the momentum and the lead to New Mexico, 70-67. The Thunderbirds led by eight with 1:44 to play, 75-67. McLennan rallied to cut the lead to three, 77-74, with 16 seconds to play but was unable to pull any closer.
Hedgeman led the Highlanders with 23 points and Armstead scored 20.
On Saturday, the Highlanders demolished the DFW Prep Ballhogs 106-63. Hedgeman once again led McLennan with 21 points and Jashawn Talton added 14. Marquez Cooper, Armstead and Banks chipped in 12 each, and Vuksanvic added 11.
New Mexico 79, McLennan 75
McLennan: Aaron Gregg 2 2-2 8; Javen Hedgeman 9 4-7 23; Marquez Cooper 1 0-0 2; Xaiver Armstead 8 1-2 20; Antoine Banks 3 0-0 7; Jashawn Talton 3 3-3 9; Dayante McClellan 1 12 3; Sasa Vuksanvic 1 0-0 2; Totals: 28 11-16 74.
New Mexico: Tavion Robinson 2 3-4 7; Paul Williams 3 4-4 11; Franklyn Penn 3 2-2 9; Marcell Haskett 7 8-8 25; Damontrez Hawes 5 0-0 11; Xavier Thompson 0 2-2 2; DeAnthony Owens 5 0-0 12; Antonio Morales 0 2-2 2; Totals: 25 21-22 79.
3-pointers: McLennan 7 (Armstead 3, Gregg 2, Hedgeman 1, Banks 1); New Mexico 8 (Haskett 3, Williams 1, Penn 1, Hawes 1), Total fouls: McLennan 20; New Mexico 16; Fouled out: New Mexico (Morales); Halftime score: New Mexico 42, McLennan 36; Record: McLennan 5-1.