By Dave Wagner
Dan Buzard was happy his squad wasn’t playing Lone Star Conference South Division contenders.
Rubber-legged and emotionally drained after a double-overtime win over Midwestern State two nights earlier, the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team struggled to find some energy Saturday afternoon against lowly Texas Woman’s.
They did so long enough to take control with a 27-4 run over a span of 18 1/2 minutes in a 53-38 win over the Pioneers at Greyhound Arena.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Richards went 7-for-9 from the field for a game-high 15 points and added seven rebounds, but the rest of the Zias combined to shoot 28 percent — including 0-for-11 from 3-point range.
Still, it was plenty good enough to keep ENMU (14-9, 8-2 South) tied for first place in the division and extend its winning streak to five.
“I know a lot of us were tired from the Midwestern game,” Richards said. “But that’s no excuse — we should’ve played better.
“They (Pioneers) played a real good game. They’re pretty physical, and they played pretty well.”
She gave her teammates much of the credit for her shooting success.
“They gave me some good passes in good spots,” Richards said. “Luckily, I was able to hit them.”
The Zias went more than four minutes without scoring and missed nine of their first 10 shots, but appeared to take command with 10 consecutive points for a 12-6 lead.
Then TWU guard Lauri Engleman scored all 10 of her points — three 3-pointers, plus a free throw after the second one when Richards fouled her — and the Pioneers (2-21, 1-9) went in front 18-16 on a jumper by Daphne Lyons with 6:37 left in the half.
The Pioneers went scoreless the remainder of the period, however, and the Zias steadily built on their five-point halftime advantage when play resumed.
TWU had only two field goals in the second half until Lyons, who finished with a team-high 13 points, scored two buckets in the final minute.
“The big thing with Dan’s kids is they play so hard,” said TWU coach Devin Gabbard, whose team was coming off a 64-point loss at West Texas A&M on Thursday and played without starting forward Kenyada Frazier for disciplinary reasons. “We’ve tried to teach our kids (to play hard), and they don’t really understand it.
“But I’m kind of pleased with our kids. I thought they did a heck of a job.”
Buzard said the Zias simply played with little energy.
“But in the end, a win’s a win,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s by one or by 30.
“I thought Elizabeth Richards came to play today; she kept our head above water,” Buzard said. “Our defense was pretty good in the second half. We didn’t give them any clean looks.”