Hounds hunt spot in playoffs

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

With two games left, Eastern New Mexico University’s men entered the week with the possibility of earning a No. 2 seed from the South Division and a first-round home game in next week’s Lone Star Conference postseason tournament — or perhaps finishing fifth and not making the tourney at all.

ENMU (11-13, 5-5 South) hosts Midwestern State today and Tarleton State on Saturday, needing to beat both teams — currently tied for second in the division at 7-3 — and have first-place West Texas A&M do likewise to get the tiebreaker for second place.

On the other end, Texas A&M-Kingsville is only a game behind the Greyhounds and holds the tiebreaker there by virtue of a head-to-head sweep.

“Nothing is set in stone,” ENMU men’s coach Shawn Scanlan said. “We can’t be the best of the best (in the division), but we could be pretty good.”

Meantime, ENMU’s women (12-12, 3-9) close out their season with home games against Midwestern and Tarleton.

It’s been an up-and-down time for the Hounds in the South. They won their first three games — two on the road — before losing five in a row and appearing to all but play themselves out of postseason contention.

After wins last week over Abilene Christian and Angelo State, ENMU has its destiny in its hands again.

“We’ve just got to worry about taking care of our business,” said senior guard Tristan Largent, who returned to action on Saturday at Angelo after missing two games with a knee infection. “We know we can beat these two teams.”

The Hounds posted an 86-82 win earlier at Midwestern (18-6 overall), then saw a 14-point lead slip away in the final 10 minutes two nights later in a 77-72 loss at Tarleton (18-7).

“I have a great deal of respect for both of these teams,” Scanlan said. “But knowing the way we played in those games, we’ll go in feeling like we have a good chance to win.”

The Hounds are certainly glad to be back to full strength with the return of Largent, the team’s leading scorer (17.2 ppg), from a knee injury. He played 25 minutes at Angelo, finishing with 12 points and assisting on Justin Redman-Trotter’s game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

It was more minutes than either Largent or Scanlan anticipated, but Largent said the knee is much better now.

“I was a little sore after the game,” he said. “But this week, it feels real good.”

Midwestern State (18-6, 7-3 Lone Star Conference South) at ENMU (11-13, 5-5), 7 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena.
KSEL-FM 95.3.
On the Net: www.enmusports.edu
Notes: ENMU won the first meeting at Wichita Falls 86-81 after falling behind 14-0 and 18-1. That was the only loss for the Mustangs in a 15-game stretch from Dec. 11 through Feb. 7, but they’ve dropped two of three since then. … Midwestern has three players averaging at least 17 points a game — 6-9 senior C Eric Dawson (17.2), 6-2 senior G Drew Coffman (17.2) and 6-1 senior G Chad Rickett (17.0). Dawson leads the LSC in rebounding (11.3 rpg) and blocks (77) and is third in FG shooting (61 percent), while Coffman leads the conference in assists (131) and is second in FT shooting (85 percent). … The Mustangs are ranked sixth in the NCAA Division II South Central Region. The top eight at the of the season advance to the regional tournament.

Midwestern State (12-12, 5-7 Lone Star Conference South) at ENMU (12-12, 3-9), 5 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena.
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Notes: ENMU senior forward Elizabeth Richards surpassed 1,000 points for her career on Saturday at Angelo State (1,004). This season, she ranks first in the LSC in rebounding (10.6 rpg) and blocks (1.71), and is ninth in scoring (14.7). Senior G Heather Brown is fifth in scoring (15.5 ppg) and third in FT shooting (87 percent). … Midwestern edged ENMU 81-75 in double overtime in the earlier meeting. The Zias erased an 18-point deficit with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation and led by three in the first OT. … Sonya Courtney, a 5-8 senior G, leads the Mustangs in scoring (14.3 ppg) and rebounding (5.4 rpg). … Midwestern is 0-5 on the road in the South (3-7 overall). … The Mustangs are averaging 56.5 points, next-to-last in the league, and are shooting a conference-worst 35 percent from the field.

— Compiled by Dave Wagner