Zias’ rally comes up just short

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU freshman Clarissa Krum guards East Central’s Casi Rawls during Thursday’s game at Greyhound Arena.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — The young Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team was poised for a stunning comeback Thursday night.

Then East Central senior Lacey Goldwire put the rally to rest, scoring a clinching basket from the lane with 20 seconds left to secure the Tigers’ 62-58 Lone Star Conference women’s crossover victory over the Zias at Greyhound Arena.

The Zias nearly won despite 28 percent field goal shooting (20-of-72). They outrebounded the Tigers 47-40 and committed just eight turnovers.

“We didn’t shoot well enough to win,” Zias coach Lindon Weese said. “We went to the offensive boards well (24 offensive rebounds), but we were too tentative at times.”

Goldwire, the LSC’s second-leading scorer at 20.2 points per game, finished with 23 while junior forward Kacey Thomas added 17 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers (8-2), who led 49-32 with 14 minutes left before fighting off a late Zias run.

Freshman forward Til-Lois Fifer scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Zias (2-8), while freshman guard Cat Clay added 10 points.

“Credit Linden’s kids; they had a couple of opportunities to quit and they never did,” East Central coach Ken Franz said. “I was a little disappointed with how we handled the last two minutes. To be as experienced as we are, I felt like we took some really quick shots.”

ENMU trailed 59-49 with just under four minutes left, but pulled to 60-58 with just over a minute left after a 3-pointer by reserve guard Blythe McPherson and a basket by Fifer.

Fifer then forced a steal near midcourt, but McPherson’s potential game-tying jumper was off the mark and East Central’s Kristie Dodgion cleared the rebound.

After a timeout, Goldwire took a pass in the lane from Thomas and dropped in an 8-footer for a four-point margin.

“They had to make a play to beat us, and they did,” Weese said.

The Zias managed only two one-point leads in the first half, the latter coming on Megan Kabrick’s 3-pointer to make it 23-22 with 6:49 to go.

The Tigers responded with a 9-0 run that included four points from Dodgion, a 3-point play by guard Veronica Valles and two free throws from Goldwire. Eastern scored just four points the rest of the half, which ended with the Tigers leading 36-27.

Goldwire led all scorers with 12 points in the opening half, while Dodgion and Thomas added eight apiece for East Central.