Zias keep winning despite ugly effort

Junior Laci Lee drives for a layup. Lee was oe of five Zias to score in double figures. CNJ photo by Rick White.

By Kevin Wilson

PORTALES — Against some of the Lone Star Conference’s better teams, the current Zia squad might have a small losing streak going.

Against Texas A&M-Kingsville, however, Eastern New Mexico was able to push its win streak to six and remain tied for first in the LSC South standings, winning 70-50 Thursday night at Greyhound Arena.

“I’m just glad winning ugly counts the same as winning,” Zia coach Dan Buzard said after the victory, its second win in a row over an LSC South cellar-dwellar.

Combined with Saturday’s 53-38 win over Texas Woman’s, ENMU (15-9, 9-2 division) has won its last two against teams that are a combined 40 games below .500. TWU and TAMU-K are currently 2-22, 1-10 in LSC South play.

Both West Texas A&M and Abilene Christian won Thursday, keeping their division records at 9-2 as well.

The Zias weren’t overly impressive, but took an advantage of a huge disparity in talent and blew the game open with a 14-2 second-half run.

Elizabeth Richards scoffed 17 points to lead five players in double figures for the Zias, who never trailed.

“It was a lot better than our Texas Woman’s performance,” said Richards, who also led the Zias with eight rebounds. “I still think that we have the potential to play to a higher level.”
It was a sentiment her coach could attest to, as the Zias head into their regular-season home finale Saturday against Texas A&M-Commerce. The Zias could earn at least one more home game by finishing in the top two in the LSC South.

“We’re not running our offense well,” Buzard said. “When we’re running our offense well and we’re playing good defense, we should be about where we need to be right now.”

There was little concern Thursday night, as Buzard never took a timeout. Richards scored eight of her points during the second-half run, which gave ENMU a 54-37 lead.
Kingsville stayed close early, trailing 38-31 at the half, but sealed their fate when they started the second half with 3-of-20 shooting.

“The games that we’ve shot well, we’ve been in,” Kingsville coach Dina Kangas said. “The games we haven’t, we’ve lost by 20 points. You aren’t going to win games shooting 15 percent.”

Kangas admitted that her team got far less out of their post players after halftime — center Cianne Johnson scored 11 of her 15 points in the first half — but thought the Zias’ defense played a role.

“I thought they did a good job defensively,” Kangas said. “We didn’t get a lot of good looks, and I think they had a lot to do with it.”

Jody Brooks scored 12 points, while Leigh Ann McGhee had 10 for the Javelinas.

Heather Brown scored 15 points for the Zias, Tiana Bryant added 14, and Laci Lee and Loren Scarlett had 10 each.