Shorthanded Hounds host WT tonight

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — Facing rival West Texas A&M was already a big challenge for the Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team, but it just got a lot bigger.

When the Greyhounds entertain WT in a 7:30 p.m. Lone Star Conference South Division clash today at Greyhound Arena, their bench will be noticeably short.

Only six players are scheduled to dress, including new walk-on Jamaal Hadley. Coach Shawn Scanlan said junior guard Chad Johnson will be sitting out a one-game suspension for an incident in a Jan. 10 game at Southwestern Oklahoma, while senior guard Kevin Davis and junior guard Jamaal McCoy are on “indefinite suspension” after an incident on the team’s trip for their previous game on Wednesday at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Women’s squads clash in today’s 5:30 p.m. opener.

The Buffaloes (11-5, 1-0) will bring what Scanlan called a “physically tough” squad into the contest.

“This’ll be a huge challenge for us,” he said. “We’re going to have to try to change the (pace of the) game and hope for a few breaks.”
He said the Hounds (6-10, 0-1) had their chances in a 74-65 loss at Kingsville.

“We didn’t play well Wednesday night,” he said. “We had as much to do with losing that game as (Kingsville) did.”

Senior guard Justin Redman-Trotter has stepped up his scoring role in the team’s five January games, averaging more than 23 points while shooting 48 percent from 3-point range. For the season, he’s leading the team at 17.7 points per game.

“Justin has the ability to score,” Scanlan said. “He just needs to be more efficient in his shots.”

The freshman-laden ENMU women’s squad also has its hands full against the 22nd-ranked Lady Buffs (11-3, 1-0), who swept through the South unbeaten last year and have arguably the best player in the league in junior guard Emily Brister.

“There’s a reason they’re a top 25 team,” ENMU women’s coach Linden Weese said. “They like to pressure you and force you into mistakes. Brister’s a great player; she makes plays on both ends of the floor.

“We’re going to have to play really well. This is a measuring stick for these kids.”

The Zias (3-11, 0-1) show flashes in almost every game. In Wednesday’s 66-62 loss at Kingsville, they pared a 21-point deficit near the end of the first half to one late in the game.

“We probably played as poor a half as we have all year long in the first half (at Kingsville),” Weese said, “and as good as half as we’ve played in the second half.”

ENMU BASKETBALL CAPSULES
Men
West Texas A&M (11-5, 1-0) at ENMU (6-10, 0-1), 7:30 p.m. today, in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena.

Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3, KGNC-AM 710.

On the Net: www.enmusports.com

Notes: ENMU had won three of four before Wednesday’s South-opening 74-65 loss at Texas A&M-Kingsville. … WT has taken the last six meetings from the Greyhounds, including 87-72 at Canyon and 91-79 at Portales last season. … The Buffaloes opened South play by edging Angelo State 71-68 on Wednesday in Canyon, with 6-4 senior F Tyler Cooper snapping a tie by hitting a 3-pointer with two seconds left. The game featured 15 ties and 12 lead changes. … Robert Lee, a 6-3 senior G, posted his first double-double of the season on Wednesday (21 points, 11 rebounds) and leads the Buffs in scoring (14.7 ppg), followed by 6-6 senior F Chris Hinz (10.5). Five others average between 7.8 and 9.3 ppg. … WT coach Rick Cooper, in his 15th year at the school, has never had a losing season.

Women
West Texas A&M (11-3, 1-0) at ENMU (3-11, 0-1), 5:30 p.m. today, in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena.

Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3, KGNC-AM 710.

On the Net: www.enmusports.com

Notes: WT, ranked No. 22 in NCAA Division II, has won back-to-back South titles and made three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament. … Prior to taking their current jobs, ENMU coach Linden Weese and WT coach Krista Gerlach were on Marsha Sharp’s staff at Texas Tech. Both are in their second seasons. … The Zias lost at Kingsville 66-62 on Wednesday, nearly erasing a 21-point deficit. Meantime, WT routed Angelo State 74-53 for its 39th consecutive win at home. … The Lady Buffs have won five in a row and 11 of 12 after losing their first two games of the season. Nine of their wins are by at least 16 points. … Leading scorers for WT are 5-9 junior G Emily Brister (22.4), 5-7 junior G Courtney Lee (11.8) and 6-2 junior G/F Jamie Dreiling (10.3). Brister, the LSC South preseason player of the year, also leads the team in rebounding (7.4 rpg) and shoots 91 percent from the FT line.

— Compiled by Dave Wagner