PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University’s men would like a mulligan for the start of Wednesday’s Lone Star Conference clash at West Texas A&M.
Down by 20 points with less than two minutes left in the first half, the Greyhounds came all the way back — almost — before losing to the Buffaloes 71-68 at Canyon, Texas.
ENMU (10-8, 3-6 LSC) shot 22 percent in the first half and 65 percent (17-of-26) in the second stanza, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
The teams collide again in a 7:30 p.m. tip today at Greyhound Arena in the conclusion of the LSC’s “rivalry week.” Women’s teams meet in the 5:30 p.m. opener.
“We played really badly the first 15 minutes,” ENMU men’s coach Andrew Helton said of Wednesday’s tilt. “We played really well in the second half.
“Hopefully, we’ll play well for 40 minutes this time instead of 25.”
Tonight’s game marks the start of the second half of LSC play. It also kicks off a three-game homestand for the Hounds, who have gone 5-1 so far at home with the only blemish a three-point loss to conference-leading Tarleton State.
“In some ways, it’s been a disappointing first half, although we’ve played better the last two games,” Helton said, referring to last Saturday’s upset of previously unbeaten Midwestern State and the game against the Buffs (12-4, 6-3).
While they were relatively healthy last season in earning an LSC tournament berth, the Hounds have been dealing with injuries this season — particularly to their inside players.
Senior forwards Max Carrier (knees), Curtis Wilkinson (hand) and Aaron Edwards (shoulder) are banged up. Carrier, one of the team’s leading scorers last year, has been limited to only about 17 minutes a game this season.
“This has been one of the toughest years I’ve coached in terms of injuries,” Helton said. “We’ve just got to do what we did against Midwestern. We’ve got to get guys playing hard.”
The Zias, meantime, also started slowing on Wednesday, but never recovered in absorbing a 77-45 loss to the Lady Buffs.
WT (9-7, 7-3) held LSC scoring leader Precious Herrin scoreless on just four shots from the field.
“We came out real flat, and you can’t beat a good team like that,” first-year Zias coach Lindsey Wilson said. “We just have to come ready to play and protect our home court.”
Wilson said Friday that ENMU (4-12, 2-8) will be without senior point guard Tori Northcutt tonight after she suffered a concussion in practice.
Despite only a 1-5 mark at home thus far, the Zias have played well at Greyhound Arena with competitive losses to Fort Lewis, Abilene Christian, Tarleton State and Midwestern State.
“I think we can beat anybody we play whenever we do things the right way,” Wilson said.
West Texas A&M at ENMU
When: 5:30 (women) and 7:30 p.m. (men) today at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9 (both games).