Freedom New Mexico
DENVER — Senior forward Rae Bean scored 20 points and Metro State converted four free throws in the final 15 seconds Friday to edge Eastern New Mexico University’s women 57-53 in Metro State’s Thanksgiving Classic.
ENMU (0-4) will face defending Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament champion Colorado State-Pueblo, which beat Northwest Missouri State 82-69 on Friday, at 1 p.m. today. Metro State (2-1) will take on Northwest Missouri in the finale.
Senior guard Chelsea Williamson added 12 points while sophomore guard Jasmine Cervantes chipped in 11 off the bench for Metro State, which took advantage of a long ENMU dry spell to open a nine-point lead early in the second half.
Sophomore guard Alex Ortiz led the Zias with a career-high 19 points, hitting 3-of-7 from 3-point range and 7-of-11 shots from the field overall.
Metro State bolted to a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes, but Ortiz knocked down a 3-pointer with 9:37 left in the half to give the Zias their first lead at 21-18. That was their last field goal, however, for nearly 13 minutes until Ortiz hit another trifecta to pull ENMU to 32-26 early in the second half.
The Roadrunners outscored ENMU 14-2 over that stretch, with the Zias going 0-for-14 from the field and committing eight turnovers.
ENMU put together a 7-1 run capped by another 3-pointer from Ortiz to pull to 41-40 with nine minutes left. Ortiz tied it with a layup at the 7:15 mark, and put the Zias in front 46-44 with a jump shot nearly a minute later.
The teams exchanged the lead four more times over the next three minutes before Bean converted a 3-point play with 1:20 remaining to give Metro State a 53-51 advantage. ENMU then missed two shots and had a turnover on its next three possessions before two free throws from senior guard Leandra Sands with 15 seconds left extended the margin to four points.
Junior point guard Tori Northcutt scored for the Zias with nine seconds to go, but Williamson converted two foul shots with six seconds remaining to seal the win for Metro State.
ENMU posted a 20-17 edge in field goals, including 7-3 on 3-pointers, but the Roadrunners won the game by converting 20-of-29 free throws to 6-of-11 for the Zias.