Hounds, Zias end frustrating seasons

By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico

As they prepare to wind down painful seasons tonight, both Eastern New Mexico University basketball teams can point to games that got away during 0-11 runs though the Lone Star Conference South Division.

The Greyhounds and Zias get their final crack at division success when they host Abilene Christian at Greyhound Arena. Both ENMU teams have lost 13 in a row overall.

The women (9-20 overall) have dropped eight games by eight points or less in the South, including a 51-47 verdict at third-place Angelo State on Friday. The men (4-22) took South co-leader Midwestern State into overtime before losing 94-90 on Feb. 14, then had second-half leads in road losses to LSC tourney-bound Texas A&M-Kingsville and co-leader Angelo State last week.

“These last two years have been disastrous,” ninth-year men’s coach Shawn Scanlan, whose team has lost 23 in a row in division play since a season-ending overtime upset of Tarleton State at home in 2007.

The Hounds suffered through serious injury problems from the get-go in 2007-08. This year, they’ve had injuries and sickness to deal with, although not to the same degree.

“This year, we didn’t get off to a good start,” Scanlan said. “We certainly haven’t come together as I would’ve expected us to.”

On the bright side, he said the Hounds are playing better and, more importantly, with more heart as the season winds down. Junior forward Equs Darby leads the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game and is shooting 56 percent from the field.

“I don’t think we’re playing well, but if we’d played this way, I think we could’ve won more games.”

He said the Hounds haven’t been a good defensive team, have turned the ball over too much and didn’t shoot that well, especially early in the season. “The last half (of the South schedule), we’ve played everybody pretty well,” he said.

The Zias went 2-10 in the South last year, but third-year coach Linden Weese said his mostly freshman-sophomore team has made progress in the South.

“I think we’ve earned some respect this year in the league,” he said. “Teams know they have to come and play harder and longer than they did before.”

Weese said the Zias have already signed two incoming freshmen for next year and hope to sign about three more. With a decent returning base of players heading into their third seasons, he’s hoping to turn the corner soon.

Sophomore guard Cat Clay has 79 3-point field goals — tops in the conference — and leads the team in scoring at 12.5 ppg, while sophomore forward Til-Lois Fifer is just under double figures in scoring (9.8 ppg) and leads the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg).

“We’ve got kids who’ve come through the league twice now and know what it’s going to take,” he said. “They just have to work to get better now over the summer.”

Abilene Christian (8-16, 2-8) at ENMU (4-22, 0-11)
8 p.m. (MST) today in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Notes: While ENMU brings a 13-game losing streak into the game, the Wildcats are also struggling. They’ve lost six in a row and nine of 10 since a 68-58 win over the Greyhounds in the South opener on Jan. 13 in Abilene. … ACU is 7-6 at home, but 1-10 on the road. … The Hounds, who have led in the second half in each of their last three losses, are trying to avoid a second consecutive 0-12 South finish. … Dejan Sencanski, a 6-foot-6 senior F from Serbia, shoots 52 percent from the field and leads ACU in scoring (18.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg). Also in double figures is 6-3 senior G Dante Adams (13.7 ppg). … Despite their losing record, the Wildcats have outscored their opponents by an average of seven points this season.

Abilene Christian (16-9, 7-3) at ENMU (9-20, 0-11)
6 p.m. (MST) today in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Notes: The Wildcats clinched an LSC tournament berth on Saturday by beating Midwestern State. ACU is trying to hang on to second place in the South. … The Zias have lost 13 in a row, but of their South setbacks are by eight points or less, including a 73-65 setback at Abilene Christian in the division opener. ENMU led 41-29 early in the second half in that one. … The Wildcats, 10-2 at home, are 5-7 on the road. … ACU’s leading scorers are 6-0 senior C Audrey Maxwell-Lively (15.6 ppg) and 6-0 senior F Jamie Meyer (13.8 ppg). Maxwell-Lively is averaging a double-double (10.4 rpg).

— Compiled by Dave Wagner