The fate of the Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team is still in their hands heading down the stretch.
A four-team race appears to be brewing for the South Division’s final two spots in the Lone Star Conference’s postseason tournament, and the Hounds face each of the other challengers in the final five games.
ENMU left late Tuesday night on a 12-hour bus trip for today’s 7 p.m. (MST) clash with Texas A&M-Kingsville. Women’s teams play in the first half of the twin bill.
The Hounds (9-13, 3-4 South) are coming off a gut-wrenching 92-89 overtime loss at home to rival West Texas A&M.
ENMU coach Shawn Scanlan said the Hounds played hard and had victory in their grasp several times in Monday’s game. Now they have to bounce back against a Kingsville team which they edged 63-60 at home last week.
“Everything’s still in play,” Scanlan said of the team’s tournament hopes. “Playing down there is always a tough test. It’s the same team we just played, only they’ll be playing at home.”
Kingsville (13-8, 3-3) is third in the South, a half game ahead of ENMU and Abilene Christian (8-14, 3-4) and 1 1/2 games up on Midwestern State (13-9, 2-5), which won twice last week to improve its station.
The Hounds host last-place Angelo State and Abilene Christian next week, then travel to division-leading Tarleton State and to Midwestern State the following week.
Against WT, they rallied from a 14-point deficit with 12 minutes left and had chances to win at the end of regulation and the end of overtime.
“I thought we had a little advantage (playing at home),” he said. “We just didn’t take advantage of it.
“When we got down to that point, we just couldn’t finish it off. We were just one play short.”
ENMU’s women, who put up a valiant effort in an 82-78 loss to nationally-ranked WT on Monday, will try to keep last-place Kingsville in their rear-view mirror tonight. The Zias (9-13, 1-7) beat Kingsville 71-62 last week after leading the Javelinas (4-17, 0-8) by 23 points early in the second half.
“I think (Monday’s game) gave us a boost of confidence,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “It lets the kids know that if they play hard, they can play with anybody.”
The Zias, who lost to Texas Woman’s at home on Saturday, return that game with the Pioneers on Saturday afternoon in Denton, Texas.
“We just have to understand that, going on the road, we’ll have to play a lot better than we played here,” Buzard said. “If we play as hard as we did (Monday) night, we could win two games this weekend.”