Hounds, Zias end frustrating seasons

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Junior Equs Darby leads the Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball team with a 10.2 scoring average while shooting 56 percent from the field.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — As they prepare to wind down painful seasons tonight, both Eastern
New Mexico University basketball teams can point to games that got away
during 0-11 runs though the Lone Star Conference South Division.

The Greyhounds and Zias get their final crack at division success
when they host Abilene Christian at Greyhound Arena. Both ENMU teams
have lost 13 in a row overall.

The women (9-20 overall) have dropped eight games by eight points or
less in the South, including a 51-47 verdict at third-place Angelo
State on Friday. The men (4-22) took South co-leader Midwestern State
into overtime before losing 94-90 on Feb. 14, then had second-half
leads in road losses to LSC tourney-bound Texas A&M-Kingsville and
co-leader Angelo State last week.

“These last two years have been disastrous,” ninth-year men’s coach
Shawn Scanlan, whose team has lost 23 in a row in division play since a
season-ending overtime upset of Tarleton State at home in 2007.

The Hounds suffered through serious injury problems from the get-go
in 2007-08. This year, they’ve had injuries and sickness to deal with,
although not to the same degree.

“This year, we didn’t get off to a good start,” Scanlan said. “We certainly haven’t come together as I would’ve expected us to.”

On the bright side, he said the Hounds are playing better and, more
importantly, with more heart as the season winds down. Junior forward
Equs Darby leads the team in scoring at 10.2 points per game and is
shooting 56 percent from the field.

“I don’t think we’re playing well, but if we’d played this way, I think we could’ve won more games.”

He said the Hounds haven’t been a good defensive team, have turned
the ball over too much and didn’t shoot that well, especially early in
the season. “The last half (of the South schedule), we’ve played
everybody pretty well,” he said.

The Zias went 2-10 in the South last year, but third-year coach
Linden Weese said his mostly freshman-sophomore team has made progress
in the South.

“I think we’ve earned some respect this year in the league,” he
said. “Teams know they have to come and play harder and longer than
they did before.”

Weese said the Zias have already signed two incoming freshmen for
next year and hope to sign about three more. With a decent returning
base of players heading into their third seasons, he’s hoping to turn
the corner soon.

Sophomore guard Cat Clay has 79 3-point field goals — tops in the
conference — and leads the team in scoring at 12.5 ppg, while sophomore
forward Til-Lois Fifer is just under double figures in scoring (9.8
ppg) and leads the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg).

“We’ve got kids who’ve come through the league twice now and know
what it’s going to take,” he said. “They just have to work to get
better now over the summer.”

Abilene Christian (8-16, 2-8) at ENMU (4-22, 0-11)
8 p.m. (MST) today in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Notes: While ENMU brings a 13-game losing streak into the game, the Wildcats
are also struggling. They’ve lost six in a row and nine of 10 since a
68-58 win over the Greyhounds in the South opener on Jan. 13 in
Abilene. … ACU is 7-6 at home, but 1-10 on the road. … The Hounds, who
have led in the second half in each of their last three losses, are
trying to avoid a second consecutive 0-12 South finish. … Dejan Sencanski, a 6-foot-6 senior F from Serbia, shoots 52 percent from the field and
leads ACU in scoring (18.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg). Also in
double figures is 6-3 senior G Dante Adams (13.7 ppg). …
Despite their losing record, the Wildcats have outscored their
opponents by an average of seven points this season.

Abilene Christian (16-9, 7-3) at ENMU (9-20, 0-11)
6 p.m. (MST) today in a Lone Star Conference South Division game at Greyhound Arena.
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Notes: The Wildcats clinched an LSC tournament berth on Saturday by beating
Midwestern State. ACU is trying to hang on to second place in the
South. … The Zias have lost 13 in a row, but of their South setbacks
are by eight points or less, including a 73-65 setback at Abilene
Christian in the division opener. ENMU led 41-29 early in the second
half in that one. … The Wildcats, 10-2 at home, are 5-7 on the road. …
ACU’s leading scorers are 6-0 senior C Audrey Maxwell-Lively (15.6 ppg) and 6-0 senior F Jamie Meyer (13.8 ppg). Maxwell-Lively is averaging a double-double (10.4 rpg).

— Compiled by Dave Wagner