By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s basketball teams don’t have much margin for error.
The Greyhounds and Zias each have three of their final four Lone Star Conference South Division games at home, beginning with tonight’s twin bill against Abilene Christian.
The ENMU women (12-10, 3-7 South) are trying to come all the way back from an 0-7 division start. They’ve won three in a row, but may need to win out to make the top four and earn a berth in the LSC postseason tournament.
“All four of these games are big if we want to have a chance to get in there,” Zias coach Linden Weese said.
Abilene Christian (14-10, 5-5) will put a big team on the floor, Weese said.
“They’ve got great size at all positions,” he said. “They’ve got good shooters and they’ll try to use their size inside.”
The Hounds (9-13, 3-5) have lost their last five after a 3-0 South start. They are tied for fourth with Angelo State and Texas A&M-Kingsville, but must beat out the latter in the standings by virtue of two losses — by a total of three points — to the Javelinas.
“It’s a real critical game for us in terms of postseason consideration,” ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said. “We have to get some things right.”
The Hounds began division play with a hard-fought 86-82 win at Abilene. The Wildcats (10-12, 1-7) have never really recovered.
Still, Scanlan isn’t about to take anything for granted. The Wildcats are coming off a one-point overtime loss to Tarleton State at home on Saturday.
“I think Abilene is an improved team over a year ago,” he said. “That (loss to Tarleton) tells you how close this (division) is. There’s not a lot of difference between the teams.”
Saturday’s game at Angelo also looms large for the Hounds. They own a 94-78 win over the Rams last month in Portales, but Angelo State has gone 3-1 at home so far in division play.
The Hounds expect to be without leading scorer Tristan Largent again tonight. The senior guard did not play in Saturday’s 78-76 home loss to Kingsville due to an infection in his knee.
Scanlan is hopeful Largent will be able to play by Saturday.
Abilene Christian (10-12, 1-7 Lone Star Conference South) at ENMU (9-13, 3-5), 7 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Notes: ENMU beat the Wildcats 86-82 in its division opener at Abilene in mid-January. … The Wildcats are just 1-7 this season on the road. … Abilene Christian has lost five in a row and nine of 10, but pushed Tarleton State into overtime before losing 81-80 at home on Saturday. … Four Wildcats are scoring in double figures for the season — 6-2 junior G Philip Brooks (16.0), 6-2 senior G Tiago Souza (11.0), 6-8 junior F Marcos Hubner (10.4) and 6-3 junior G Courtnie Ross (10.1).
Abilene Christian (14-10, 5-5 Lone Star Conference South) at ENMU (12-10, 3-7), 5:30 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-AM 1450.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Notes: Abilene Christian built an 18-point lead and held on for a 72-67 win over the Zias in the South opener at Abilene in January. … The Wildcats are 11-1 at home but just 3-9 away from home, including 2-7 in true road games. Their only home setback was a stunning 77-54 drubbing at the hands of Texas A&M-Kingsville on Jan. 27. … Since starting 7-0, Abilene Christian has neither won nor lost more than two in a row. … Alex Guiton, a 5-5 junior F, leads the team in scoring at 15.5 ppg while 6-0 sophomore C Audrey Maxwell averages 13 points and 9.3 rebounds and is shooting 56 percent from the field. … The same players have started all 24 games this season for the Wildcats.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner