Eastern New Mexico University men's basketball coach Andrew Helton is relatively happy with his team's early-season play, but he hopes the best is yet to come.
The Greyhounds (3-3) open Lone Star Conference play with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff today against Angelo State (2-2) at Greyhound Arena. Women's squads match up in the 5:30 p.m. lidlifter.
ASU (2-2) is coming off back-to-back losses to Minnesota-Duluth (71-68) and St. Mary's (84-76) in a four-team invitational over the weekend in San Antonio.
"It's a very evenly-matched game," Helton said. "It's just going to be who plays with some energy. It's a home league game; no doubt, it's a real important game."
For the Hounds, it'll be their sixth game in 10 days, including an exhibition against University of the Southwest last week. ENMU beat Colorado State-Pueblo and Missouri Southern over the weekend in West Texas A&M's Thanksgiving Classic, but lost at Lubbock Christian 83-76 on Monday night.
For the Rams, senior guard Antonio Dye scored 18 points while junior forward Chris Talkington added 17 points and six rebounds against St. Mary's. Talkington, a transfer from Division I Nicholls State, leads the team in both scoring (18.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg).
In Helton's previous three years here, the Hounds have gone 2-4 against the Rams, splitting each of the last two seasons. "Every game has been tight," he said.
The 10-team league appears to be wide-open, Helton said. ASU was picked eighth and ENMU 10th in preseason.
"It's going to be a very competitive league," he said. "It's one of those deals where anyone can beat anyone."
Meantime, ENMU's women are looking to get off the schneid. The young Zias (0-4), whose 14-player roster includes nine freshmen and sophomores and just two seniors, have struggled mightily to score points, averaging just over 43 per game.
"We're just so young; we have to get on the same page," second-year coach Lindsey Wilson said. "We're getting better every day, which is encouraging to see."
Angelo (2-3), which lost two games by a combined four points in the WT event last weekend, is led in scoring by junior forward Lauren Holt (11.8 ppg) and sophomore forward Haylee Oliver (10.8 ppg).
"This game is important for us," Wilson said. "The girls are still working hard in practice.
"We're only four games into the season, so there's no need for us to panic."
The Zias have added a game at Division I Texas-El Paso (5-0) at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 8.
Angelo State (2-2) at ENMU (3-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena in the Lone Star Conference opener for both teams.
Last outing: The Rams lost to St. Mary's 84-76 on Saturday in the Rattlers' four-team classic at San Antonio. ENMU lost on Monday at Lubbock Christian 83-76.
Last meeting: ASU beat the Hounds 70-62 last February at San Angelo, Texas.
Angelo State (2-3) at ENMU (0-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Greyhound Arena in the Lone Star Conference opener for both teams
Last outing: The Rambelles dropped a pair of games last weekend in the WT Classic, including a 61-60 loss on Saturday to McMurry.
Last meeting: ENMU upended the Rambelles 63-58 last Frebruary at San Angelo.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner