Westerners put an end to NMMI’s postseason hopes with 75-65 victory in play-in game
NMMI Sports Press
Timely threes by the New Mexico Military Bronco basketball team weren’t quite enough to get the win over conference opponent Midland College, as inside scoring and outstanding rebounding by Chap center Elijah Lufile helped his team finish with a seven-point win, 64-57.
NMMI’s Isaiah Francis had his second-best point total of the season, dropping in 28, while teammate Jordan-Reese George put forth his best offensive effort with twelve points, including a trio of treys.
Midland’s Lufile, however, had a double-double wrapped up before the end of the first half, and finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds.
In the first half, neither team was able to take more than a two-point lead, until Eman Eman hit a three-pointer in the last 40 seconds to put the Chaps up by four, 29-25.
NMMI had two chances to score before the buzzer, but an in-the-paint shot Zeontay Anthony rattled around the rim before bouncing back out. He got his own rebound and was fouled before going back up for a shot. On the ensuing inbound play – with just 1.4 seconds left, Cyriaque Foucart missed a three from the corner while being well-guarded by the Chap defense.
Midland built an eight-point lead in the first five minutes of the second half, 38-30.
The Institute battled back, creating the ninth tie of the game, 43-43, after a three-pointer by the game’s top scorer, Isaiah Francis, with 10:11 left on the clock.
NMMI briefly led twice by two in the period: once immediately after Francis’ three, with Foucart getting an easy lay-in off an assist by Keith Deloatch; and again at the 7:25 mark, 48-46, after a ‘stop-and-pop’ shot by Francis.
But Midland again surged out in front, and held another eight-point margin, 58-50, with just 3:38 left to play.
Francis scored seven points over the next two minutes, making it a three-point game, 60-57, with 1:34 remaining, but a Chap three and single free throw were the final points scored in the contest.
After Francis and George, NMMI’s next highest scorer was Jermane Carter, who fouled out late the second half with seven points and six rebounds. Anthony Mensah posted up for six Bronco points, while bringing down 10 boards.
The loss drops NMMI to 7-19 overall and 2-11 in conference, with three games left in the regular season. They’ll face both Frank Phillips and Howard College on the road (Feb. 18 and Feb. 21) before finishing up at home against Western Texas College on Feb. 28. Tip-off for that final game is scheduled for 6:00 PM in the Cahoon Armory gymnasium.