Hounds, Lions set to square off
ALLEN, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University men’s basketball coach Andrew Helton likes his team’s quarterfinal matchup against Texas A&M-Commerce in the Lone Star Conference tournament.
He also knows the fourth-seeded Lions (18-8, 7-7 LSC) have plenty of talent and come into the event with momentum, having won four in a row and knocking off third-ranked Tarleton State 79-76 on Saturday night at Stephenville, Texas.
“They’re very talented, one of the more talented teams in the league,” Helton said. “I think it’s a good matchup.”
The Hounds and Lions square off at 7:30 p.m. (MST) on Thursday at the Allen Events Center.
The teams split during league play, each winning a relatively close game at home. ENMU (14-12, 7-7), seeded fifth, dropped three tough games in a row to Midwestern State (81-79), Commerce (78-71) and Tarleton State (92-82) before breaking out in a 94-63 rout of rival West Texas A&M last Saturday at Greyhound Arena.
“It’s one of those games where we made shots, and WT got off to kind of a slow start,” Helton said. “It was nice to get out of the gate like that.
“Not only did it make a good statement for our seniors in their final home game, but it also gave us some momentum heading into the conference tournament.”
Top-seeded Tarleton and No. 2 Midwestern, which tied for the regular-season championship, are the favorites to get to the finals. But both teams know there are others who can challenge them and upset the apple cart.
Helton said the Hounds, who clinched the program’s first winning season in 10 years with Saturday’s win, are relatively healthy entering the tournament.
ENMU (14-12, 7-7 Lone Star Conference) vs. Texas A&M-Commerce (18-8, 7-7)
- When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Lone Star Conference tournament quarterfinals at Allen, Texas
- Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9
- Last time out: Both teams won on Saturday, ENMU thumping West Texas A&M 94-63 at home while the Lions upended third-ranked Tarleton State 79-76 at Stephenville, Texas.
- This season: Each team won at home, the Greyhounds edging Commerce 83-78 on Jan. 22 at Greyhound Arena while the Lions returned the favor at home on Feb. 19, winning 78-71.
- Of note: Commerce struggled early in LSC play, but comes into the tournament with four wins in a row. … Three players average in double figures for the Lions in 6-foot-6 junior G LaDon Carnegie (15.5 ppg), 6-5 senior G Devondrick Walker (14-1) and 5-10 senior G Tyrie Wooten. … The winner faces either top-seeded Tarleton State or No. 8 WT in a 7:30 p.m. (MST) semifinal on Friday.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner