Last year’s Eastern New Mexico University men’s team rode a strong finish to a berth in the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament.
Coach Andrew Helton said the Greyhounds’ goals have increased as they prepare to hit the meat of the schedule.
“Our main goal last year was to get in the conference tournament,” Helton said. “The goal this year is to compete for a conference championship.”
The Hounds (9-4, 2-2 LSC) played well at the end of the semester, beating Angelo State and Abilene Christian at home and competing well for the most part in a 76-54 loss at Division I Long Beach State.
They return on Wednesday with a 7:30 p.m. clash against Tarleton State (11-1, 3-0) at Greyhound Arena.
“We were up and down,” Helton said of the first semester. “I felt good winning the two league games here, but we’ve got to get better to get where we want.”
The Hounds are allowing around 74 points a game, but have made strides on defense, Helton said. They should also be healthier, especially inside with Curtis Livingston, Max Carrier and Daniel Strong all healing from injury.
Livingston missed several games during the semester due to the death of his grandfather and a family friend in California. He didn’t play at Long Beach due to a hand injury, but his presence makes a significant difference.
“He needs to play,” Helton said of Livingston, one of four Hounds averaging in double figures at 13.4 ppg.
Meantime, the ENMU women (2-8) are bracing for a track meet on Monday night at Oklahoma Panhandle State before taking on LSC preseason favorite Tarleton at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Things haven’t gone quite the way first-year Zias coach Lindsey Wilson had hoped, but she remains encouraged.
“I think we’re in a good position,” she said. “We continue to get better. We’ve been in many of our games.
“Being able to make shots is a big thing. We haven’t lost games because of our defense.”
Senior forward Precious Herrin leads the LSC in scoring at 18.4 ppg and field goal percentage (.556), but the Zias haven’t been able to find others to share the load.
ENMU outlasted Panhandle 100-96 in the earlier meeting here, but Wilson thinks her team is better prepared this time.
“They caught us off-guard last time,” she said. “All it takes is to be able to guard shots and rebound.”
ENMU (2-8) at Oklahoma Panhandle State (3-10)
When: 6 p.m. (MST) Monday at Goodwell, Okla.
Last time out: The Zias lost to Abilene Christian 92-85 in two overtimes on Dec. 17 at Greyhound Arena. The Lady Aggies beat Henderson State 125-111 in Goodwell on Saturday.
Last meeting: The Zias outlasted OPSU 100-96 at Greyhound Arena on Nov. 15 in the combined highest-scoring game in the history of the ENMU program. The previous mark came in a 107-87 loss to Colorado College in 1980.
Of note: If nothing else, the Lady Aggies will get up and down the floor. Despite shooting just 34 percent as a team, they are averaging 84 shots a game, with more than half of them (613) from 3-point land. Their opponents, who have taken nearly 85 fewer shots, are shooting around 52 percent. … After Saturday’s win, the Lady Aggies are averaging 92.6 points and are allowing an even 100 per game. They’ve gone over 100 four times and given up 100 or more on nine occasions. … Teenie Kent, a 5-foot-4 sophomore G, leads OPSU at 12.3 ppg — all off the bench. She scored 23 in the loss at ENMU. … Four players have started at least 12 games for the Lady Aggies, but 11 players have played in all 13 games and two more have played in all but one. No one averages as much as 20 minutes, but 12 players average between 11 and 19. … Both ENMU squads return to Lone Star Conference action in a Wednesday doubleheader against Tarleton State at Greyhound Arena.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner