(Seguin) - The Texas Lutheran men's and women's basketball teams open critical homestands in their respective Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference seasons tonight with games against Centenary University at Memorial Gymnasium.
The TLU men, 8-14 overall in Mike Wacker's second season as head coach, find themselves tied with Southwestern for sixth place in the SCAC with a 4-7 conference record heading into the weekend. The Bulldogs are trying to bounce back from an 0-2 road swing that yielded a 76-68 loss to Trinity last Friday and an 83-81 setback to SCAC leader Schreiner on Saturday.
Centenary, led by first-year head coach Chris Dorsey, is 13-8 overall and occupies second place in the SCAC standings with a 7-4 conference record after a 2-0 homestand against Dallas (86-78) and Colorado College (87-79) last weekend.
Only the top six teams in the final standings qualify for the upcoming SCAC tournament in late February. It's still mathematically possible for TLU to finish as high as second, but not without some help. The top five spots are currently occupied by Schreiner (9-1), Centenary (7-4), Trinity (6-4), Dallas (6-5), and Colorado College (5-6).
Centenary staved off Texas Lutheran's late rally to win the first meeting between the teams 71-66 in Shreveport on Jan. 5. Senior guard Travion Kirkendoll led the Gents with 19 points on 9-14 shooting, sophomore wing Cedric Harris added 16 points and went 4-10 from three, and junior forward Kaharri Carter finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. Junior point-guard Nathan Josephs was the only TLU player in double figures, totaling 19 points to go with five assists.
Kirkendoll, a three-time All-SCAC selection, ranks second in the conference with a 21.5 scoring average, and Harris is right behind him with 18.8 per game. Josephs is TLU's leading scorer on the season and No. 5 in the SCAC with a 17.2 average. Josephs ranks among the conference's top ten in assists (3.9 - 4th) and free throw percentage (.874 - 1st), while Kirkendoll holds that distinction in assists (3.8 - 6th), field-goal percentage (.502 - 8th), free throw percentage (.766 - 8th), and steals (2.5 - 1st).
Defending the three-point line will factor heavily each team tonight, as they combine to boast five of the top ten marksmen from beyond the arc in the conference - Centenary's Dyllon Weaver (.424), Harris (.404), and Treylan Matthews (.397), along with TLU's Sebastian Andrde (.413) and Jacob Kouremetis (.408). The teams are at the bottom of the SCAC in three-point field goal percentage defense, with the Gents allowing opponents to shoot .362, and the Bulldogs .366.
The TLU women are on the outside looking in at the SCAC tournament picture entering the weekend, but there's still time to climb into one of the top six spots. With a 3-8 conference record, sixth-year head coach Mel Dixon's Bulldogs (7-15) are in seventh place, a game back of sixth-place Colorado College with three to play. A 78-66 loss to Trinity and 65-55 setback to Schreiner on last weekend's road swing pushed TLU's losing streak to three games.
Centenary is trending in the opposite direction, riding a four-game win streak into Seguin after sweeping its homestand against Dallas (78-64) and Colorado College (67-55) last week. The Ladies are 8-14 overall with a 5-6 SCAC mark in David Foley's second season as head coach, good enough for fourth place in the Standings.
Austin College (10-1), Trinity (9-1), Southwestern (6-5), Centenary (5-6), Schreiner (4-6), and Colorado College (4-7) occupy the top six spots going into the weekend.
Centenary handed Texas Lutheran a 67-52 loss - the Bulldogs' first ever to the Ladies since joining the SCAC in 2013 - in Shreveport on Jan. 5. TLU only shot 32.7 percent overall, 22 percent (4-18) from three-point range, and turned the ball over 27 times that evening. Centenary's Jasmine Morris led all scorers with 17 points, while Cami Davis led TLU with 11.
Morris, a junior guard, has been the Ladies' top player this season, averaging 11.2 points and three assists per game. Centenary boasts three of the SCAC's top ten rebounders in Kayla King (6.7), Deunya Small (6.5), Haylee Washington (6.2).
Davis, the former Marion standout and junior transfer from UT-Tyler, leads TLU and ranks fourth in the conference with a 15.4 scoring average. She also leads the Bulldogs in assists (2.9), free-throw percentage (.800), three-point shooting (.311) and steals (2.2). Freshman post Abby Hroch is TLU's leading rebounder (6.3 - 9th SCAC), and junior forward Presley Stephens leads the SCAC in blocked shots (2.6).
The TLU - Centenary doubleheader starts with the men's game at 5:30, with the women following at 7:30. Both games will air live on KWED 1580 AM and Seguintoday.com, with streaming video available at tlubulldogs.com. Pre-game coverge starts at 5:20.