By Dave Wagner
CMI SPORTS WRITER
For 36 minutes, Eastern New Mexico University’s Tori Tucker was just trying to stay in the game — she drew two offensive fouls in the first five minutes, and found herself saddled with four midway through the second half.
In the end, though, the junior guard from Floyd lit up Cameron with four consecutive 3-pointers in the last four minutes, finishing with 20 points and helping the Zias hold off the Aggies 70-61 in the Lone Star Conference women’s opener for both teams at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (3-7) led virtually the whole way, but the Aggies (8-3) rallied from nine down early in the second half to lead three times down the stretch.
Tucker took care of that, though. Her first 3-pointer with 3:55 left put the Zias in front for good 58-56, and she added three more in the remaining time to help salt it away.
Tucker went 5-for-5 from distance, all in the second half.
“I’m glad she did (that),” first-year ENMU coach Joshua Prock said. “We’ve been talking about girls stepping up at the end of games, and she did a great job.”
Tucker, whose season high was 22 points at Wayland Baptist in mid-December, missed her two shots from long range in the first half.
“I didn’t shoot good against Lubbock (Christian, in an 84-52 loss on Monday),” said Tucker, who also tied with senior Jasmine Johnson for the team lead in rebounds with eight. “The second half (of this game), I was just feeling it.
“We needed that. We’ve had some games where we were close to winning and didn’t step up and make plays. All that matters is when conference (play) starts.”
Sophomore forward Nelsha Peterson added 12 points off the bench for ENMU, which put all 10 of its players into the scoring column.
Senior guard Jazzmine Robinson led the Aggies with 21 points, but shot just 5-of-11 from the foul line, while reserve Ali Brown added 10. The Aggies struggled all night from the field, shooting 29 percent on 17-of-58.
ENMU improved to 3-1 at home this season.
“You have to preotect your home court in a tough league like the Lone Star Conference,” Prock said. “Honestly, we should be playing with nothing to lose, and I thought our kids played relaxed tonight.
“The thing I’m most proud about is we let them get the lead and our girls fought back. Winning close games does a lot for you.”
Tucker said she realizes it’s unlikely she’ll have a lot of games like this one, but added the Zias have others who are capable.
“We’re not really a team with a superstar,” she said, “but one person each night is bound to go off.”
Both teams struggled for much of the half. The Zias made only two of their first 10 shots, but led 11-5 after a Jordyn Cooper putback at the 8:39 mark as Cameron missed 16 of its first 17 shots.
ENMU led 15-7 after a 3-pointer from the right of the key by Lakeeyscia Griffin with just over 6 1/2 minutes to go. Robinson then got going and the Aggies closed the gap, pulling within two on a 3-pointer by junior guard Jade Herl with just over four minutes left.
The Aggies then missed six of their final seven shots in the half, though, and the Zias built a 30-24 lead when Cara Barnard hit a 10-footer from the from of the lane as the half ran out.
Amber Williford led the Zias with six points as ENMU finished 9-of-33 from the field for the half. Robinson had nine points for the Aggies, who ended at 21 percent on 6-of-29 shooting.