Zias fall to WT in South opener

CNJ staff

CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M answered a 19-6 Eastern New Mexico University run with 12 consecutive points to take control down the stretch and hand the Zias a 79-67 loss in the Lone Star Conference South Division women’s basketball opener for both teams Saturday night.

The game was part of WT’s Lady Buff Classic, but will count in South Division standings as well.

Sophomore guard Emily Brister led four Lady Buffs in double figures with 18 points as WT (4-1), ranked No. 5 in one NCAA Division II poll, overcame a six-point deficit after leading most of the way.

Junior forward Elizabeth Richards fell just short of career highs with 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Zias (3-1). Her ENMU bests were 25 points early last season against Western New Mexico and 15 rebounds in a 2004 win over Texas A&M-Commerce.

Senior guard Heather Brown added 17 points and six assists for the Zias, who opened a 59-53 advantage when Richards converted a feed from guard Lindsey Wood into a layup with 9:56 left.

WT pulled even on two free throws by Kara Pridey and baskets by Mariah Willis and Brister. Brister then put the Lady Buffs ahead for good by hitting two free throws with 7 1/2 minutes left.

Freshman guard Holly Isaacs followed with a three-pointer and then converted a free throw after a steal to complete WT’s run.

“We had it in pretty good shape for a while,” ENMU women’s coach Linden Weese said. “They figured out we were going to guard them pretty well on the perimeter and they got themselves to the free throw line late.

“I was real proud of the kids. I thought our effort was tremendous.”

The teams will meet again on Dec. 20 at Greyhound Arena in their other division clash, thus avoiding three-game weeks during regular South play.

“I thought Elizabeth and Heather both played well for us,” Weese said. “And we got good play off the bench again from (Megan) Ratliff and Lindsey Wood.”

Pridey finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for WT, while Jennifer Brock added 12 points and seven assists and Mariah Willis contributed 10 points.

The Zias held WT to 42 percent field goal shooting, but the Lady Buffs converted 30-of-42 free throws to 17-of-22 for ENMU.