Heather Brown looks for room on the baseline as she is guarded by Texas A&M Kingsville’s Dely’la Hoodye in the second half of Saturday’s Lone Star Conference South Division game. (Freedom Newspapers: Kevin Wilson)
By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — It wasn’t pretty, but the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team went out on an up note Saturday night.
Junior post Tiana Bryant scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and senior post Loren Scarlett collected eight points, a career-high 15 rebounds and a team-high five assists as the Zias survived 28 turnovers to cruise past listless Texas A&M-Kingsville 52-33 in the Lone Star Conference South Division and regular-season finale for both teams at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (13-14, 7-7 South) finished in a tie for fourth with Texas A&M-Commerce after notching its fourth consecutive victory. Kingsville, which shot a meager 19 percent from the field (11-of-58), scored only 71 points in its season-ending trip to West Texas A&M and ENMU after upsetting Abilene Christian 79-78 in overtime last weekend.
Bryant went 7-for-10 from the field for the Zias, who struggled to pull away from the Javelinas but were never in serious trouble.
“We didn’t play very well, but there were some factors in that,” he said. “I thought we made them take shots we wanted them to take. We didn’t always take care of the ball real well, but they’re quicker than we are in a lot of positions.”
ENMU trailed 2-0 in the first 30 seconds, but led for the final 35 minutes. Its biggest margin was 21 points in the final minute after a 3-pointer by Scarlett.
“I wanted to go out doing my best,” Scarlett said. “I haven’t been playing that way a lot this year, but I felt I owed it to the coaches and the team.”
Scarlett was one of four seniors recognized before the game — including Portales High grad Laci Lee. Lee, who played only nine games this year before being sidelined by a foot injury, was given a start by Klafka and immediately exited the game when the Zias conceded the opening tip.
“We came out kind of slow, I thought,” Scarlett said. “We let them get a lot of offensive rebounds (early), but coach called timeout and told us to pick up our defense.”
Scarlett played four years at ENMU — the first under Wayne Moore, the next two under Dan Buzard and her final year with Klafka, who took the team over after Buzard was hospitalized with a cancerous brain tumor over the summer.
“I’m proud of being able to play four years for Eastern, for coach Moore, coach Klafka and coach Buzard,” said Scarlett, from Throckmorton, Texas.
“Loren finished her senior year the right way,” Klafka said. “She went out and played real well on both ends of the floor tonight.”