STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Eastern New Mexico University played 17th-ranked Tarleton State relatively even for much of Saturday’s Lone Star Conference women’s matchup. It might have been better than that, except for 6-foot-1 senior post Kiara Wright.
Wright went 13-for-13 from the floor en route to a career-best 39 points and the TexAnns snapped a two-game losing streak, pulling away late for an 89-71 win over the game Zias.
Wright added 13-for-20 from the free throw line, coming on strong after a slow start, and also posted her 12th double-double of the season and 49th of her career with 16 rebounds.
Brianna Bledsoe and Kathy Thomas each added 12 points for Tarleton (14-3, 5-2 LSC), which was coming off losses to Cameron at home and at No. 7 West Texas A&M.
But it wasn’t easy.
The Zias (6-9, 4-3), who got 18 points from sophomore guard Jordyn Cooper and 12 points each from junior Tori Tucker and sophomore Nelsha Peterson, went on a 12-0 run to open a 23-12 advantage less than seven minutes into the game.
Cooper, who went 4-for-10 from the 3-point line, hit one to put the Zias up 14-12 and Tucker and freshman Cassidy Doherty followed with 3s on the next two trips. After a missed 3-pointer by Bledsoe, Williford capped the surge with a 3-point play at the 13:18 mark.
The TexAnns came back with a 15-3 surge to take the lead, but ENMU got a basket from Williford and a 3-point play from Jaylyn Cooper to move back in front by four. Tarleton took the lead for good at 44-41 when Wright closed the half with two free throws and a layup in the final minute.
ENMU was down 55-52 five minutes into the second half before Wright’s layup started an 8-0 run. The Zias were still within eight points when Tucker scored at the six-minute mark, but Tarleton finished the game on a 7-0 run over the final 2 1/2 minutes.
ENMU outrebounded the TexAnns 41-32 and fired up 19 more shots, but TSU shot 63 percent from the floor (30-of-48) to 37 percent for the Zias and converted nine more free throws.