Zias pull away late, beat Midwestern State

By Dave Wagner

Sophomore guard Heather Brown scored a season-high 20 polnts and kept the game in control late as Eastern New Mexico University pulled away for a 67-52 Lone Star Conference South Division win over Midwestern State Saturday night at Greyhound Arena.
The Zias (7-9, 1-2 South), who had lost six of their previous seven games, took the lead for good late in the first half, built a 19-point margin with just over six minutes left and fought off a brief MSU run late to nail down the victory. Brown scored eight of ENMU’s last 10 points at the free throw line, and the other two came when junior post Riikka Lehtonen scored on a putback of a missed Brown charity shot.
Junior post Tiana Bryant added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Zias. The Lady Indians (6-11, 1-3) did not place anyone in double figures, with junior guard Kelly Cleavinger’s nine points leading the team.
“We needed that one pretty bad,” acting ENMU women’s coach Dustin Klafka said. “We did a really good job defensively. Their motion offense is tough to defend, but I just thought we really played well.”
Since Christmas, four of the Zias’ five losses have been by four points or less while the other one was in overtime. They led Texas A&M-Commerce most of the way Thursday night before dropping a 71-67 decision.
Brown said it was a matter of the team making some plays.
“Thursday night, nobody really stepped up at the end of the game,” she said. “I told (her teammates) to give me the ball and I’d try to make something happen.”
Klafka was happy to see it.
“She probably needs to do that a little more than she has been,” he said. “She’s very capable of taking over games.”
The Zias fell behind by five points early, missing 11 of their first 12 shots, but they went 21-of-43 the rest of the way.
“We played pretty good defense tonight,” Brown said. “On offense, we were very patient. Everybody just played together tonight.”
ENMU started sluggishly, but even so trailed just 9-6 at the 12:57 mark after Bryant converted an inside feed from Brown.
The Lady Indians stayed in front until the 7:55 mark, when two free throws by freshman guard Erika Cook put the Zias in front 18-17. Brown’s 3-pointer from the wing tied it 21-21 with 4:55 remaining, and Bryant’s two free throws at the 3:49 mark gave ENMU a 25-23 advantage.
The Zias stayed in front the rest of the half, finishing it on a 13-4 run capped by Brown’s second 3-pointer in the closing seconds to make it 31-25 at the break.

Lone Star Conference South
ENMU 67, Midwestern State 52
Midwestern State (6-11, 1-3) —
Adrian Fincher 3-7 2-3 8, Katherine Maples 3-9 2-2 8, Kelly Cleavinger 4-11 1-2 9, Katie Robertson 2-4 0-0 5, Stacey Staten 2-3 0-0 4, LaTia Banks 2-4 0-0 5, Nicole Brantley 1-6 0-0 2, Anhgie Faurot 1-7 1-2 4, Johnice James 1-1 2-2 4, Mahagony Brown 0-2 3-4 3. Totals 19-54 11-15 52.
Eastern New Mexico (7-9, 1-2) — Tia Doss 1-2 1-2 3, Mika Robertson 2-13 4-6 8, Riikka Lehtonen 4-6 1-2 9, Heather Brown 5-12 8-10 20, Ashley Davidson 1-3 0-0 2, Casey Rodriguez 0-1 0-0 0, Erika Cook 2-6 2-2 7, Loren Scarlett 2-2 0-1 4, Tiana Bryant 5-10 4-6 14. Totals 22-55 20-29 67.
Halftime — Eastern New Mexico 31, Midwestern State 25. 3-pointers — Midwestern State 3-19 (Banks 1-3, K. Robertson 1-3, Faurot 1-4, Staten 0-1, Cleavinger 0-3, Brantley 0-5), Eastern New Mexico 3-14 (H. Brown 2-5, Cook 1-2, Davidson 0-1, Rodriguez 0-1, Bryant 0-2, M. Robertson 0-3). Rebounds — Midwestern State 33 (K. Robertson 8), Eastern New Mexico 41 (Bryant, M. Robertson 9). Assists — Midwestern State 12 (K. Robertson 4), Eastern New Mexico 11 (H. Brown 3). Total fouls — Midwestern State 18, Eastern New Mexico 15. Fouled out — none. A — 630.