Strong second half start pushes WT past Zias

By Karl Terry: Freedom correspondent

The West Texas A&M University Lady Buffs overcame a slow first half to humble the Eastern New Mexico University Zias 75-57 Wednesday at Greyhound Arena.

The Lady Buffs (21-2, 5-1 LSC) took advantage of a 21-point night from junior Joni Unruh and 28 turnovers to hand the Zias (6-15, 1-6) another tough Lone Star Conference South loss.

Zia coach Linden Weese said his team did a good job overall but committed too many turnovers. His team wound up with 28 giveaways in the contest compared to 13 for WT.

“You can’t beat a great team like that turning the ball over that many times,” Weese said.

Weese said he thought his team had a good chance if they shot the ball well in the second half but a tighter Lady Buff defense limited the Zias from getting good looks at the basket.

“They’re smart, they know who to take away and who to let shoot,” Weese said. “We probably had some people taking some shots they shouldn’t have in that second half.”

After spotting the Zias a 10-2 lead early in the first half, the Lady Buffs closed the gap and went ahead to stay as the buzzer sounded to end the first half with a 3-pointer by Holly Issacs to make it 35-33. That basket and halftime adjustments by WT coach Krista Gerlich sparked a 16-0 run from that point into the second half. The Zias didn’t score again until the 16:12 mark in the second half.

Gerlich figured a full week without a game caused her team to come out a little flat but she was pleased with the way they recovered.

“We made a few adjustments on the defensive end,” Gerlich said. “They did a good job of attacking our defense in the first half. In the second half we seemed to have more energy.”

Junior Cat Clay led the Zias in scoring with 15 points, while sophomore Celeste Belizario came away with 11 points and seven rebounds.

WT had three other players in double figures. Sophomore Jamie Simmons scored 13, while seniors Ceciley Johnson and Maddy Brown each scored 10.

The two teams face off against each other again Saturday in Canyon.

“Our kids are ready to play them again Saturday,” Weese said. “They know a lot is our fault and we’re going to fix those things and get back out there.”