By Dave Wagner
For the better part of a month, the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team was competitive game-in and game-out despite the loss of senior guard Laci Lee to a season-ending injury.
That all came apart in Monday’s 91-44 thrashing at rival West Texas A&M, leaving the Zias to regroup for Lone Star Conference South Division road games tonight at Texas Woman’s and on Saturday at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
ENMU’s men, who also lost at WT 66-59 on Monday, return to action with a 3 p.m. game on Saturday at Kingsville.
The Zias (7-10, 1-3 South) had dropped five of seven games going into Monday’s debacle at WT, but four of the losses were by a total of 12 points and the other came in overtime.
“This is going to be a real test of our will this weekend,” acting ENMU women’s coach Dustin Klafka said. “I think we went into the WT game tired and unprepared. They played a little above their heads and took us out of the game in the first five minutes.”
Both TWU (9-7, 2-2) and Kingsville (4-13, 0-4) have struggled in their own right lately, but Klafka said the trip itself is challenging. The Zias flew from Lubbock to Dallas on Wednesday, then catch another flight to Corpus Christi on Friday.
“This is our toughest trip and far as distance and wear-and-tear,” he said. “The flights take a toll on us.”
TWU has lost four in a row — all on the road — but those teams have gone a combined 48-17 this season. The Pioneers have already tripled their win total from 2003-04.
“They’ve got a legitimate chance to win the South,” Klafka said. “They’ve got just as good of people as WT or Angelo (State). They’ll be a handful.”
He said Kingsville has an athletic team and is always a tough place to play. “They’ll present us some matchup problems,” Klafka said of the Javelinas.
The two-time defending South champion ENMU men (7-11, 0-3) have dug themselves a hole, and have their work cut out at Kingsville (11-6, 2-0).
The Greyhounds regained the services of junior forward Daniel Sherman (back) on a limited basis at WT, but they’re still missing senior guards Irshaun Pinckney (ankle) and Jamal Washington (broken hand).
Given that, coach Shawn Scanlan said, the Hounds simply can’t afford to make the kind of mistakes they did at WT — 24 turnovers, including 16 in the first half, and a 17-10 discrepancy in offensive rebounds.
“We’ve lost three games in a row and basically been at fault in all of them in terms of not being able to finish,” Scanlan said. “The guys who haven’t been hurt are going to have to make the difference for us.”
Kingsville, which swept the Hounds and finished second to the Hounds in the South last season, is coming off a road sweep of Angelo State and Abilene Christian. The Javelinas aren’t a deep team but are generally tough to beat at home, although they’ve struggled at times this season (5-3).
“They’re coming off a great (road) trip,” Scanlan said. “Their tendency this year has been to be very efficient halfcourt team. They get a lot of their points off their halfcourt sets.”