By Dave Wagner
Eastern New Mexico University’s Laci Lee was at her best Tuesday night.
The junior guard from Portales poured in 21 of her career-high 27 points in the first half as the Zias, scoring the game’s first 10 points, rolled to a 76-57 Lone Star Conference South Division pounding of rival West Texas A&M at Greyhound Arena.
Senior post Jereena Bosket added 13 points and backup guard Mika Robertson chipped in 11 as the Zias shot 50 percent from the field (25-of-50) and sank 22 of 29 free throws in the division opener for both teams.
With ENMU’s inside players fighting foul trouble, junior forward Mika Robertson added six points and a team-high eight rebounds off the bench.
“That was as complete a game as we’ve played all year,” Zias coach Dan Buzard said. “We countered every run they made.
“Laci Lee stepped up and played like a leader tonight. She really took charge of the game in the first half.”
Forward Vasha Adams scored 16 points — all in the second half — and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for WT.
Playing its home opener, ENMU (4-4) held the Lady Buffs scoreless for the first five minutes and without a field goal for nearly 8 1/2 minutes.
“We played so well as a team tonight,” said Lee, who was 9-of-13 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. “We showed our potential tonight. Now we’ve just got to keep improving each day.”
Lee also had five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.
“We didn’t have anybody who could guard her,” veteran WT coach Bob Schneider said. “We tried two or three people on her, and she just made us look like junior high kids.”
WT (5-2) committed 12 turnovers and got off only 19 shots in the first half, then shot just 10-for-35 from the field in the second half.
“We were tentative on our passes,” Schneider said. “We didn’t play very good defense, and when you don’t play defense you get beat.
“I think we got within four, and then they got another run again. They were just more determined than we were tonight.”
The game was almost a complete turnabout from a non-league meeting on Thanksgiving weekend in Canyon, Texas, in which WT dominated from the start in winning 75-54.
“We were very ready to play tonight,” Lee said. “Over there, we didn’t play as well as we could.
“We knew in the second half the pressure (defense from WT) was going to be harder, but we held our composure and did the things we could do.”
Bosket scored the game’s first five points, including a 3-point play, and the Lady Buffs didn’t get on the board until Jennifer Brock hit a pair of free throws with 14:59 left in the half. They didn’t get their first field goal until 11:33 remained, a 3-point play by senior post Celeste Stevenson which pulled WT to 17-7.
The Lady Buffs closed to 27-24 with under five minutes left, but Lee hit a pair of 3-pointers to spark a half-ending 16-8 run which gave ENMU 11-point command.
West Texas scored the first six points when play resumed, but Bosket’s field goal on a feed from Kristi McGuire pushed ENMU’s lead into double figures for good (55-44) with 11:23 to go.