LAS VEGAS, N.M. — January 17, 2020 — Freshman guard Jalen Munn was scoreless until he made one of two free throws with less than two seconds remaining to tie the score at 92-92, then sank eight of 10 free shots in overtime to help New Mexico Highlands to a 109-101 win over Chadron State in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference game in Las Vegas on Friday night.
Free throws were the key to Highlands’ victory. Chadron State scored 76 points from the field compared to Highlands’ 64, but the Cowboys were 45 of 63 at the line and Chadron State was 25 of 32 there while losing another tough one. It was the Eagles’ second overtime loss to go with three others by three or fewer points this season.
“We played well and kept up with a really talented team on its home floor tonight,” Chadron State Coach Houston Reed said. “There are a few little things we needed to do better, but it’s unbelievable when a team gets 63 free throws.”
The game was tight all the way. Highlands was ahead by nine midway in the first half, but led by only 42-41 at halftime. The Eagles were up 67-60 midway in the second half. The difference was never more than three points during the final 9:36 of regulation.
The game’s leading scorer with 33 points, Sammy Barnes-Thompkins, put Highlands ahead for the first time in more than two minutes at 91-90 when he sank jumper with 21 seconds remaining.
Barnes-Thompkins then promptly fouled out while trying to slow down CSC’s point guard Colby Jackson, who was headed to the other end of the court with the ball.
Jackson made both free throws to give the visitors a one-point margin. With six seconds remaining, Highlands missed a shot, Munn got the rebound and a foul was called. He hit the first charity toss, but missed the second. The Eagles grabbed the rebound, but time had expired.
The Eagles had the first shot in overtime, but missed. Highlands got that rebound, Darius Harrison scored and the Cowboys never trailed again.
Barnes-Thompkins, the RMAC’s leading scorer with a 24.9-point average, was 15 of 17 at the line for nearly half of his 33 points. D.J. Bustos, who had scored 34 points in five games this season, finished with 20 points, Desmond Carpenter added 13 and Raquan Mitchell and Munn 11 apiece.
Chadron State was paced by senior Brian Rodriguez-Flores with 28 points, including 10 of 11 at the line, and Michael Sparks with 26 while going six of 12 from 3-point range. Both totals are season highs. Jacob Jefferson chipped in 12 points and Jackson 11.
Highlands is now 11-4 overall and 6-4 in the conference. The Eagles, who are 3-13 and 2-9, play at Colorado State-Pueblo Saturday night.