Zias rally to beat Southwestern

By Dave Wagner

Trailing by 11 points with 16 1/2 minutes left, Eastern New Mexico University didn’t exactly have the Southwestern Oklahoma Lady Bulldogs right where they wanted them.
Then the Zias went to a 2-3 zone defense, got Southwestern to cool off from the field and used a game-ending 14-2 run to pull out a 71-65 Lone Star Conference crossover victory on Saturday afternoon at Greyhound Arena, the third time this season they’ve erased a double-figure deficit to win.
“We don’t plan it that way,” ENMU acting women’s head coach Dustin Klafka said. “But we’ve got a lot of gritty kids that believe in themselves. They’re not going to go down without a fight.”
Sophomore guard Heather Brown led four players in double figures for ENMU (4-3) with 18 points, hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point range and 6-of-8 field goals overall. Senior guard Laci Lee added 14 points while junior posts Tia Doss and Tiana Bryant had 12 and 10, respectively.
While ENMU hit 8-of-18 from 3-point range and shot a season-best 53 percent from the field on 29-of-55, the Lady Bulldogs (4-5) cooled off big-time in the second half when they hit 8-of-29 from the field (28 percent).
“They don’t go very deep on the bench, and neither do we,” Klafka said. “I think our zone really helped us — not that it was particularly good, but they didn’t handle it very well.”
Doss also had primary responsibility on Southwestern’s Julie Dawson, the LSC North’s preseason player of the year. Dawson scored 16 points, but went 6-for-15 from the field and had only a 3-pointer after halftime.
“She did a good job,” Klafka said of Doss. “She’s getting better and better every game. She’s one of those kids that works hard for us every day.”
Doss, who went 6-for-7 herself on the offensive end, said she just tried to make Dawson work for what she got.
“She’s one of those pure shooters,” Doss said. “Just staying tight with her was the most important thing.”
The Lady Bulldogs (4-5) came out of a fast-paced first half with a 42-38 lead after shooting 52 percent from the field, including 8-of-18 from 3-point range. But they appeared to run out of gas.
“We didn’t play very well the last 10 minutes,” Southwestern coach Shelley Pond said. “We didn’t make very good decisions, and when you do that you normally get beat.
“We played well until then, but I don’t know what happened to us. We just kind of mentally broke down.”
Eastern went to its zone and cut the deficit to 53-51 with a 9-0 run, then fell behind again by six points before 3-pointers by senior guards Casey Rodriguez and Mika Robertson put the Zias up 67-63 lead with less than three minutes left.
“(Klafka) kept emphasizing more intensity on defense,” Doss said. “We just had to step it up in that area.”
The teams were called for only a combined 12 fouls until the final 30 seconds, when the Lady Bulldogs had to foul four times to send the Zias into the 1-and-1.
Freshman Grace Anne Jones also scored 16 points for Southwestern, while sophomore guard Kayla Watson added 11.

ENMU 71, SW Oklahoma 65
Southwestern Oklahoma (4-5) —
Bethanie Bentz 1-9 0-0 2, Julie Dawson 6-15 0-0 16, Paige Adams 3-10 0-0 7, Kayla Watson 3-6 2-2 11, Niki Sloan 2-5 0-0 6, Grace Ann Jones 6-8 2-2 16, Autumn Aneshansley 3-6 0-0 7, Dru Tomaszewski 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-60 4-4 65.
Eastern New Mexico (4-3) — Tia Doss 6-7 0-0 12, Mika Robertson 3-11 0-0 8, Tiana Bryant 5-9 0-2 10, Heather Brown 6-8 2-2 18, Laci Lee 6-12 1-1 14, Riikka Lehtonen 1-1 2-2 4, Casey Rodriguez 1-2 0-0 3, Ashley Davidson 0-1 0-0 0, Loren Scarlett 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 29-55 5-7 71.
Halftime — Southwestern Oklahoma 42, Eastern New Mexico 38. 3-pointers — Southwestern Oklahoma 13-30 (Dawson 4-10, Watson 3-3, Jones 2-3, Sloan 2-4, Aneshansley 1-2, Adams 1-4, Tomaszewski 0-1, Bentz 0-3). Eastern New Mexico 8-18 (Brown 4-5, Robertson 2-6, Rodriguez 1-1, Lee 1-2, Bryant 0-2, Scarlett 0-2). Rebounds — Southwestern Oklahoma 29 (Bentz 6), Eastern New Mexico 34 (Robertson 6). Assists — Southwestern Oklahoma 15 (Adams 4), Eastern New Mexico 19 (Bryant, Lee 5). Total fouls — Southwestern Oklahoma 11, Eastern New Mexico 5. Fouled out — none. A — 200.