Once late January rolls around, Lubbock Christian University basketball teams will have a favorable schedule entering the final stretch of the season.
The Chaparrals play seven of their last nine Heartland Conference games at the Rip Griffin Center, and the Lady Chaparrals gets six of their last eight conference games at home.
They deserve it with what’s coming up in the second half of January.
Both LCU teams play five Heartland Conference road games in a row. The challenging stretch resumes today with LCU in Austin to face St. Edward’s, the university that once was home to Dallas Cowboys training camp.
“It’s really just kind of how it fell,” Chaparrals coach Todd Duncan said Wednesday. “It really wasn’t anything we had a part in. We just have to accept it and roll with it. If we can endure it, maybe it will be to our advantage late.”
The Lady Chaps (13-1, 8-0) haven’t been fazed by much of anything during an 11-game winning streak. They’ve already beaten Heartland Conference contenders Newman, St. Mary’s and Texas A&M International, who are in the top half of the league. St. Edward’s (10-3, 5-2) also falls into the contenders category, currently sitting in fourth place among the Heartland’s 11 women’s teams.
As a provisional member, LCU isn’t eligible for the conference championship, but the Lady Chaps currently are alone at the top, the only women’s team without a conference loss.
The long stretch of road games puts the LCU men in an especially tough spot. The Chaps are 6-5, but 1-4 in the league with the four losses by margins of two, six, one and six points.
“It’s a challenge for us, and we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves,” Duncan said. “We’ve just got to turn it around and get a good road win. We don’t want to dig ourselves too deep a hole. We need to start getting over the hump in some of these games.”
After today, LCU teams play on Saturday at McMurry in Abilene and next Thursday at Newman in Wichita, Kan. The road stretch ends Jan. 25 against Oklahoma Panhandle State in Goodwelll, Okla.
The LCU men’s latest setback was Saturday when the Chaps dropped an 84-78 decision at University of Texas-Permian Basin, the first of their five straight road games. LCU had small leads for much of the second half before dropping another close one.
In their most recent Heartland Conference home game, the Chaps led league leader Texas A&M International for nearly the entire game before losing 83-82 on two free throws with 2.1 seconds left.
“The common thread is really just closing out games,” Duncan said. “We just have not, for whatever reason, been able to finish, either on the offensive end or needing a stop defensively.
“What I told them is, we’re two possessions in every game from being undefeated. On the bright side, if we’ll keep getting a little bit better at what we’re doing, we’ve got a chance. But we’ve got to be the initiators of that change. We have to take ownership of why we haven’t won and do the best we can to execute better.”
In other small-college basketball today, Wayland Baptist’s teams visit new Sooner Athletic Conference foe Texas Wesleyan, and the South Plains College men are on the road at New Mexico Military Institute.
The No. 24 Wayland men (12-2, 3-1) will be trying to protect their first ranking in the NAIA Top 25 since March 2008.
The South Plains men (17-1, 4-0) are trying to hang on to sole possession of first place in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
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Today’s Area Schedule
LCU (13-1, 8-0) at St. Edward’s (10-3, 5-2), 5:30 p.m.
Wayland Baptist (5-8, 2-2) at Texas Wesleyan (8-6, 4-2), 6 p.m.
No. 3 South Plains (17-1, 4-0) at New Mexico Military Institute (10-6, 0-4), 7:30 p.m.
LCU (6-5, 1-4) at St. Edward’s (7-6, 3-2), 7:30 p.m.
No. 24 Wayland Baptist (12-2, 3-1) at Texas Wesleyan (9-6, 3-3), 8 p.m.