Zias survive 3-point onslaught from Lady Savages

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

Southeastern Oklahoma came out bombing Saturday night.

The Lady Savages hoisted 38 3-point shots in a Lone Star Conference women’s crossover game against Eastern New Mexico University at Greyhound Arena, hitting 15, but the Zias rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to post a 75-72 victory.

Junior guard Heather Brown scored 21 points and senior post Tiana Bryant had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Zias (8-7), who won their second game in three nights on the heels of a six-game losing streak. ENMU shot 48 percent in the second half and built a nine-point advantage before holding off the Lady Savages (6-8) down the stretch.

“We came out strong right after halftime,” ENMU women’s coach Dan Buzard said. “Our girls played hard all night long, and I thought they deserved to win the game.”

Southeastern put four players in double figures, led by senior guard-forward Sami Jo Cotton-Black. She posted a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and went 5-of-10 from 3-point range.

Lady Savages coach Darin Grover said his team didn’t play well enough to win, despite its 3-point prowess.

“I give (Eastern) all the credit in the world,” Grover said. “They’ve got a team with a lot of heart.

“We didn’t play any better than they did in the first half. I knew at halftime they were doing a better job than we were.”

He said the Lady Savages needed to play a more complete game.

“We didn’t do the things we needed to do to win,” he said. “Hitting shots doesn’t equate to playing well.”

Cotton-Black opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers, and the Lady Savages led 11-3 after about 6 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, ENMU missed 10 of its first 11 shots from the field.

The Zias never caught up in the first half, but did pull to within a point twice before Cassie Watson’s 3-pointer and four free throws by Cotton-Black pushed the halftime margin to 37-30.

ENMU went on a 12-2 run to start the second half to take its first lead.

The Zias went in front for good with 10:46 left on 3-pointers by Ashley Sutton and Brown.

After a Southeastern basket, Rosalyn Elliott’s 3-point play kicked off an 8-0 spurt for the Zias, capped by Brown’s trey that made it 65-56 with 8:54 to go.

Southeastern closed to 73-72 on Hocker’s two free throws with 39 seconds left. Bryant made two free throws with 5.5 seconds to go when fouled during a loose ball scramble.

Watson’s desperation 3-pointer was well off the mark as time expired.

Elliott, a sophomore from Moriarty who had played just 71 minutes in nine appearances all season, went 17 minutes in this one. Doing significant ballhandling against the Lady Savages’ pressure, she contributed five points and a team-high five assists.

“I just did what I’ve done all my life,” said Elliott, who transferred to Eastern from Lubbock Christian. “I’ve been waiting patiently (for the opportunity). I’m just glad I got a chance to show a little of what I can do.”

Buzard said Elliott earned the minutes.

“She played that much because she played well when she went in there on both ends of the floor,” he said. “I was proud of everyone tonight. It takes a team to win close games like that.”