By Dave Wagner: CNJ staff writer
Shawn Scanlan and the Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team are desperately searching for their offense. Somewhere last week between Portales and Weatherford, Okla., it was apparently misplaced.
The Greyhounds managed only 85 points in Lone Star Conference road crossover losses to Southwestern Oklahoma and Cameron, including a stretch of more than 18 minutes without a field goal at the start of the Cameron contest.
The Hounds (3-3) hope a little home cooking provides some answers when they face LSC North favorite Texas A&M-Commerce tonight and Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday at Greyhound Arena.
Eastern’s women (5-1), trying to adjust to the loss of three players to knee injuries in the last two weeks, host Commerce tonight and St. Edward’s on Saturday.
Prior to last week’s games, the ENMU men were averaging 72 points and shooting about 45 percent from the field. However, Scanlan said he knew the Hounds had issues after a 69-57 win at home over Adams State on Nov. 26, noting that they got several shots to fall as the shot clock was about to run out.
That didn’t happen last week.
“We played pretty well defensively at Southwestern, but we played so poorly on offense that we couldn’t overcome it,” Scanlan said. “We didn’t give up many good looks, which was good, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance on the offensive end.”
The Hounds hope to regain the services of senior guard Jolen Montoya, who has missed three games with a strained muscle in his chest, and junior forward Chad Donnell, who is yet to play this season because of a stress fracture in his foot.
“There’s not an apparent trust between the players yet (on offense),” Scanlan said. “We haven’t established a presence inside.
“We need to come out and develop some confidence. The most important thing we can do right now is play in a way where our confidence can flourish.”
ENMU’s women, off to their best start in six years, are faced with finding ways to replace starters Elizabeth Richards and Riikka Lehtonen and backup Rochelle Vance. Between them, they have provided about 37 percent of the scoring and about a third of the rebounding this season.
The Zias salvaged a weekend split by edging Cameron 66-65, thanks to 20 points and 10 rebounds by senior post Tiana Bryant, her fourth double-double of the season. Bryant also had two steals in the final seconds to help secure the win.
“I thought Tiana played well Saturday,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “When we needed to get her the ball, she made something happen.”
Commerce (4-2) and ENMU tied for fourth in the South last year, each winning narrow decision’s on the other’s court.
“They’re better than they were last year,” Buzard said. “Without Elizabeth and Riikka, we’ll have to maybe figure out some way to slow the game down.”
ENMU (3-3) vs. Texas A&M-Commerce (7-1), 7:30 p.m. today, in a Lone Star Conference crossover game, and vs. Oklahoma Panhandle State (0-7), 7 p.m. Saturday, in a non-conference game at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
Notes: Playing in the LSC South last season, Commerce swept both meetings with ENMU. The Lions won the division title and were preseason favorites in the North this season after switching with Tarleton State, which won the North last year and is the South preseason…Three players average in double figures for Commerce, led by senior G Jermart Miller (16.6), the North preseason player of the year…Junior G Lamar Searight averages 13.1 ppg for Commerce, and senior F Chris Fantroy adds 11.4 ppg and a team-best 6.5 rebounds…Panhandle State, which lost at home Tuesday to Southwest Baptist 92-64, has played a challenging schedule. In addition to an 83-55 setback at Division I Wichita State, the Aggies have lost by 10 points at home to West Texas A&M, by one at home to Midwestern State and by two in overtime to South Dakota…Going into Tuesday’s game, junior G Eddie Moss, a preseason All-Heartland Conference selection, led four Aggies averaging in double figures at 16.8 ppg.
ENMU (5-1) vs. Texas A&M-Commerce (4-2), 5:30 p.m. today, in a Lone Star Conference crossover game, and vs. St. Edward’s (2-4), 5 p.m. Saturday, in a non-conference game at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-AM 1450.
Notes: The Zias finished in a fourth-place tie with Commerce in the LSC South last year at 7-7, but the Lions earned the division’s final LSC tournament berth on a tiebreaker…Each won on the other’s home floor last season — by identical 71-67 scores…Commerce is 4-0 at home and 0-2 on the road so far after losing at Division I Oklahoma State 67-43 on Tuesday. Prior to that game, sophomore F Katedria Mosley led four Commerce players averaging in double figures for the season at 15.2 ppg, followed by junior G Kanani Marshall (15.0). Mosley also leads the team in rebounding (6.8)…Commerce swept the LSC South’s preseason 1-2 teams at home last weekend, beating Angelo State 90-77 and Abilene Christian 70-66. … St. Edward’s is paying a return visit to ENMU. Last year in Austin, Texas, the Zias won 64-60…This season, the Hilltoppers have lost twice to Angelo and beat Abilene Christian. … Senior F Jennifer Knight leads the Hilltoppers at 12.8 ppg, followed by senior C Sara Baca (12.2).