By Dave Wagner
New Mexico men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan was disappointed with the Greyhounds’ defensive showing in Saturday’s 90-82 loss to 16th-ranked Northwest Missouri State in the championship game of the Ryland Milner Classic. ENMU shot a blistering 63 percent, but it was negated because the Bearcats shot 54 percent, collected 15 offensive rebounds and had a 20-9 margin in free throw attempts — including 19-4 in the second half.
Eastern (2-1) also had 20 turnovers to nine for Northwest.
“We did not do a good job of taking care of the ball,” Scanlan said. “We got rattled at times, but we also made some poor decisions.
“I’m pleased with our competitiveness. We’ve put forth a good effort in all three or our games. But we haven’t been good technically yet, from either an offensive or defensive standpoint.”
Junior forward Jamaal Hunnicutt, one of six Hounds in double figures on Saturday, represented Eastern on the five-man all-tournament team.
ENMU faces New Mexico State on Saturday at Las Cruces. The Aggies had some trouble on Saturday with New Mexico Highlands before pulling away late in the half to an 89-69 win.
“We’ve got a week to get some things corrected,” Scanlan said. “We want to get better every time out.”
THE ZIAS, JUST 7-20 LAST season, have the look of an improved team.
Fort Lewis, off to a school-best 4-0 start, broke a tie in the final minute by scoring the last three points from the free throw line and beat Eastern 63-60 in the title game of the Canyon Classic in Phoenix.
“I thought we showed we can play,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “We outshot them from the floor, we shot 86 percent (12 of 14) from the free throw line and we outrebounded them. We just had too many turnovers (25, compared with 11 for the Durango, Colo.-based Skyhawks).”
With 32 more turnovers than their opponents so far, the fact the Zias (2-1) have a winning record indicates how well they’ve played in other areas.
On Friday, they built a 21-point lead against host Grand Canyon, then fell behind by five points late before pulling out a 59-57 victory.
“We wouldn’t have won that game last year,” Buzard said. “It’s just a matter of us having a little more poise.”
The schedule doesn’t get easier. ENMU faces Lone Star Conference South Division rival West Texas A&M on Friday and Emporia State (Kan.) on Saturday in the Lady Buffs’ Dr. Pepper Classic at Canyon.
“They’re both going to be quality teams,” Buzard said. “We kind of know what WT brings to the table, but I think it’ll be a good matchup. If we can handle the ball, we’ll have an opportunity to win the game.”
Quick hits — No all-tourney team was selected at Grand Canyon, Buzard said. … The Hounds are shooting 78 percent from the free throw line, but the Zias have been even better: 45 of 57, 79 percent. The women have four players who are perfect with a minimum of four attempts. … Emporia’s women are coached by Brandon Schneider, son of WT coach Bob Schneider. Since those teams met over the weekend in Emporia (the Lady Hornets won 58-57), they didn’t want to play again, which is why Eastern and WT are playing a non-division game. … The Hounds have four players shooting above 50 percent with at least 20 attempts, led by senior Garland Coleman, who was 7 for 7 on Saturday and is 18 for 25 (72 percent) through three games.