It’s been a while since Eastern New Mexico University’s women last won a game, or Abilene Christian had lost one.
Even longer was the run the Wildcats were on against ENMU — 23 wins in a row, dating to 2001. That all ended on Saturday, though, when the Zias got on a late monster run of their own to erase a 15-point deficit with 11 minutes left and stun the Wildcats 81-73 at Greyhound Arena, knocking them out of a share of the Lone Star Conference lead.
ENMU (4-17, 3-10 LSC) ended a six-game losing streak while snapping the Wildcats’ winning streak at eight.
“I’ve been telling you all we can be good,” second-year ENMU coach Lindsey Wilson said. “When we’re all working for the same thing, we can do it.”
Freshman guard Jordyn Cooper of Texico, who came into the week averaging 3.8 points and shooting 26 percent from the field, suddenly found her shooting stroke. She went 7-of-8 from the floor, hitting all five of her 3-pointers, en route to a season-best 20 points — 14 coming in the second half.
“I was just feeling it from the 3-point line,” Cooper said. “Credit goes to our point guard (sophomore Lakeeyscia Griffin, who had 12 of the team’s 20 assists). When she goes double-digits like that, we can be successful.”
Senior guard Hannah Altheide went 4-for-5 from long range and 6-of-8 overall for a season-best 18 points. The Zias finished 11-of-16 from the beyond the arc and shot a season-best 51 percent overall (28-of-54).
They also went 14-of-15 from the foul line.
“Everybody made shots,” Wilson said. “Jordan really stepped up and Hannah worked her butt off, but for us it all starts with defense.”
It was only the Zias’ second home win in seven tries of the season, but they’ve picked off co-leaders Midwestern State and ACU and played virtually everyone else close.
“We’re a good team at home,” Wilson said. “It’s just the comfort of playing here. And winning on the road isn’t easy in this conference.”
The Wildcats (15-4, 10-3), a solid 3-point shooting team, seemed to get a little 3-point happy after a 20-4 run early in the second half gave them a 59-44 lead. They went 5-for-17 from distance in the second half, and on top of that converted only 3-of-9 free throws.
ENMU began to close the gap with Cooper doing all the damage in a 9-0 surge, converting a three-point play and following with back-to-back 3s off assists from Griffin.
“(Wilson) has talked about us playing hard all season,” Cooper said. “For us to come back from 15 down like that, it’s huge for our team.”
The Zias eventually tied it twice, then took the lead at 70-68 on Altheide’s trey from the right wing with 2:38 left. Griffin and Altheide combined to make six free throws in the final minute to seal the deal.
Junior guard Mackenzie Langford had six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points to lead four ACU players in double figures, but the Wildcats got only four points and 1-for-10 shooting from their bench.