Eastern New Mexico University junior Tia Doss leans into Midwestern State University senior Adrian Fincher as she makes a move to the basket during the second half of their game Saturday at Greyhound Arena in Portales. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — For the better part of a month, the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team was competitive game-in and game-out despite the loss of senior guard Laci Lee to a season-ending injury.
That all came apart in Monday’s 91-44 thrashing at rival West Texas A&M, leaving the Zias to regroup for Lone Star Conference South Division road games tonight at Texas Woman’s and on Saturday at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
ENMU’s men, who also lost at WT 66-59 on Monday, return to action with a 3 p.m. game on Saturday at Kingsville.
The Zias (7-10, 1-3 South) had dropped five of seven games going into Monday’s debacle at WT, but four of the losses were by a total of 12 points and the other came in overtime.
“This is going to be a real test of our will this weekend,” acting ENMU women’s coach Dustin Klafka said. “I think we went into the WT game tired and unprepared. They played a little above their heads and took us out of the game in the first five minutes.”
Both TWU (9-7, 2-2) and Kingsville (4-13, 0-4) have struggled lately, but Klafka said the trip itself is challenging.
The Zias flew from Lubbock to Dallas on Wednesday, then will catch another flight to Corpus Christi on Friday.
“This is our toughest trip as far as distance and wear-and-tear,” he said. “The flights take a toll on us.”
TWU has lost four straight, all on the road, but those teams are a combined 48-17 this season. The Pioneers already tripled their win total from last year.
“They’ve got a legitimate chance to win the South,” Klafka said. “They’ve got just as good of people as WT or Angelo (State). They’ll be a handful.”
He said Kingsville has an athletic team and is always a tough place to play. “They’ll present us some matchup problems,” Klafka said of the Javelinas.
The two-time defending South champion ENMU men (7-11, 0-3) have dug themselves a hole, and have their work cut out at Kingsville (11-6, 2-0).
The Greyhounds got back junior forward Daniel Sherman (back) on a limited basis at WT, but they’re still missing senior guards Irshaun Pinckney (ankle) and Jamal Washington (broken hand).
Given that, coach Shawn Scanlan said the Hounds can’t make the mistakes they did at WT — 24 turnovers, including 16 in the first half, and a 17-10 discrepancy in offensive boards.
“We’ve lost three games in a row and basically been at fault in all of them in terms of not being able to finish,” Scanlan said. “The guys who haven’t been hurt are going to have to make the difference for us.”
Kingsville, which swept the Hounds and finished second to ENMU in the South last season, is coming off a road sweep of Angelo State and Abilene Christian.
The Javelinas aren’t a deep team but are generally tough to beat at home, although they’ve struggled at times this season (5-3).
“They’re coming off a great (road) trip,” Scanlan said. “Their tendency this year has been to be very efficient halfcourt team. They get a lot of their points off their halfcourt sets.”
All Times MST
What: ENMU (7-11, 0-3) at Texas A&M-Kingsville (11-6, 2-0), 3 p.m. Saturday, in a Lone Star Conference South Division game.
Of note: Kingsville finished second to ENMU in the South last season, handing the Greyhounds both of their division losses. … The Javelinas have four players averaging in double figures — 6-5 senior F Robert Hamilton (15.7), 6-3 senior G Richard Gonzalez (14.2), 6-0 junior G Quendal Allensworth (13.3) and 6-1 junior G Eddie Lopez (12.8). … Hamilton (38.3), Allensworth (37.4) and Gonzalez (37.1) rank 1-2-3 in the league in minutes per game. … Hamilton leads the LSC in rebounding (11.1), while Allensworth (4.4) and Gonzales (4.1) rank 3-4 in assists. … Lopez, last week’s South co-player of the week, is second in the LSC in free throw shooting (91 percent on 49-of-54), between ENMU’s Irshaun Pinckney (94 percent) and Jolen Montoya (90 percent).
What: ENMU (7-10, 1-3) at Texas Woman’s (9-7, 2-2), 6 p.m. Thursday, and at Texas A&M-Kingsville (4-13, 0-4), 1 p.m. Saturday, in LSC South games.
Of note: TWU is on a four-game losing streak but has made a nice turnaround after going 26-80 in coach Devin Gabbard’s previous four seasons, including 3-24 last year … TWU leaders are 5-4 sophomore PG Matayla McBeth (17.1 ppg) and 6-2 junior F Ashley Browning (12.3). McBeth ranks fourth in the LSC in scoring and assists per game (4.0), and first in steals per game (4.0). … Browning and 5-7 junior G Adriana Martin share the team lead in rebounding (6.1). … Kingsville team leaders are 6-1 junior P Aasia Betts (12.8 ppg), 5-9 sophomore F Angela Trotter (11.0) and 5-5 sophomore G Nahogany Brown (10.0).
… Second-year Javs coach Dina Kangas is a 1992 graduate of Minnesota-Duluth, where she set the Division II all-time scoring record (2,810) and earned All-American honors for three seasons. She still holds 23 single-game, season and career records at UMD.