Hounds positioned for playoff spot

By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University’s men are positioned for the program’s first Lone Star Conference tournament berth in five years, but they still have their work cut out for them.

ENMU edged Angelo State 116-111 in four overtimes on Wednesday at San Angelo, Texas, and now faces four games in the final eight days of the regular season trying for one of two remaining spots from the LSC South.

Junior forward Aaron Edwards hit back-to-back 3-pointers at the start of the fourth OT, and the Hounds held on down the stretch.

“The win woke us up,” said the 6-foot-7 Edwards, who had 20 points and eight rebounds off the bench against the Rams. “Now we’re playing with a chip on our shoulder. We have to stay hungry.”

The Greyhounds (10-12, 5-5 South), tied for fifth with Incarnate Word and one-half game behind ASU and West Texas A&M at 6-5, host last-place Abilene Christian (9-14, 1-10) in a 4 p.m. tipoff today at Greyhound Arena. Women’s teams clash in the first half of the twin bill at 2 p.m.

The left-handed Edwards is just 13-for-46 from 3-point range this year, but he shot the ones at ASU with confidence.

“I just had my mind made up,” he said. “I couldn’t hold anything back.”

ENMU has beaten each of the remaining teams on its schedule. The Hounds play a makeup game on Monday at Incarnate, then visit Texas A&M-Kingsville on Wednesday before returning home to face WT on Saturday.

If they can repeat the sweep, they would earn the No. 3 seed from the South in the eight-team conference get-together, scheduled for March 3-6 in Bartlesville, Okla.

ENMU overcame the loss of five players to fouls against the Rams.

“We’ve had quite a few games this year where we’ve played better,” Hounds coach Andrew Helton said. “But as far as excitement, it’d be hard to beat (Wednesday’s win).”

Angelo led by 17 points early in the second half, and by 10 with about four minutes left.

“Our destiny is in our hands, which is what you want late in the year,” Helton said. “We’re fortunate enough to be there; now we’ve got to win games.”

ACU is having a tough year, but the Wildcats threw a scare into the Hounds at Abilene. They went on a 19-1 run to cut a 19-point deficit to 69-68, but ENMU took over down the stretch.

“The game over there was a wild game,” Helton said. “They’ve got some good players, but they’ve lost some tight ones.

“We’re not talented enough to take anybody lightly. We’ve got to be ready to play.”