Hounds want to close games better

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Shawn Scanlan believes that for maybe 35 minutes in most games, the Greyhounds are a pretty competitive team.
It’s those last five minutes or so that seem to do them in.

“We’re still trying to establish an identity,” said Scanlan, whose team takes a three-game losing streak into today’s 7 p.m. Lone Star Conference crossover game against Northeastern State at Tahlequah, Okla. “We don’t have one yet on defense or offense.

“We haven’t been the kind of team we need to be in the last five minutes of each half. This team hasn’t developed that confidence.”

The Hounds (4-7) have lost three in a row, fading down the stretch in each one. On Friday, they let a seven-point lead with three minutes to go slip away in a 62-59 loss at previously winless Oklahoma Panhandle State.

In the two games before that, against nationally-ranked Central Missouri State and a good Drury squad in the High Desert Classic at Las Vegas, Nev., the Hounds were in the hunt until the final few minutes.

Women’s teams meet in Thursday’s opener at Tahlequah. On Saturday, ENMU teams play at Central Oklahoma, with the men going first at 1 p.m. (MST).

Northeastern (8-3) and Central (5-6) aren’t necessarily the best teams to face if you’re trying to end a slide, Scanlan said. They tend to play opposite styles — Northeastern is usually a more controlled team on offense, while Central Oklahoma tends to go more up and down.

“They’re both good teams,” he said. “Northeastern hasn’t changed anything; they’re always going to play the same way.

“This is always a tough trip, and it’s even tougher when you’re trying to iron some things out.”

ENMU’s women (6-5) are trying to break out of a four-game losing streak. Northeastern’s women (8-3), much like their men, play a controlled style, while Central (2-9) has generally been competitive against a representative schedule.

The Zias are coming off a 76-44 loss at West Texas A&M in their South Division opener, but were beaten by a combined 14 points in the previous three contests.

“Northeastern’s tough at home; it’s a hard place to play,” ENMU women’s coach Dan Buzard said. “It’s a good college atmosphere when you go in there and play. Central Oklahoma has some people who can play, but they’ve lost some close games to good teams.

“Our kids have been working hard the last few days to prepare for this road trip. If we can go in and execute our game plan, I think we’ll have a chance to win.”