ENMU acting women’s head coach Dustin Klafka talks with guard Heather Brown during a stop in action in Saturday’s Lone Star Conference crossover game against Northeastern State. Photo by Kevin Wilson
No matter how low-scoring the game, it’s hard to overcome 11 minutes without any points in college basketball.
Eastern New Mexico University’s women started well on Saturday, but managed only six points in the first 17 minutes of the second half in dropping a 46-43 Lone Star crossover decision to Northeastern State at Greyhound Arena.
Northeastern (8-5) also labored on offense, shooting 30 percent from field and hitting just 9-of-33 from 3-point range. But the Lady Reds’ patient style and stingy defense paid dividends late, and they escaped with their second 3-point crossover win in three days.
“It just seemed like a real uphill battle the whole day,” said NSU women’s coach Randy Gipson, whose team led all the way in holding off West Texas A&M 51-48 on Thursday night at Canyon, Texas. “I just knew it would be a really hard game.”
ENMU (5-6), currently playing without injured senior guard Laci Lee, has had a rough time getting started after a 3 1/2-week holiday layoff. The Zias have lost their first two games back by a total of five points.
“We went into this game with one goal — to play with heart,” ENMU acting women’s coach Dustin Klafka said. “That’s all we can worry about right now.”
Senior guard Kara Kelley and 6-foot senior post Jenna Miller were a combined 7-of-16 from 3-point range and each scored 12 points for the Lady Reds. Meantime, the Zias had no one in double figures — junior forward Tia Doss finished with a team-high eight points.
Noting that it’s been a tough season for the Zias, starting with head coach Dan Buzard’s cancerous tumor in the summer from which he is still recovering, Gipson said he was just glad his team could survive.
“It was a good win for us,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for the Eastern New Mexico program. For all they’ve been through, they still play hard and they’re well-coached.
“I thought our kids competed well. We had trouble scoring, but we competed all the way through.”
The Zias scored the game’s first seven points and led 30-21 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. But after Loren Scarlett’s basket 18 seconds into the second stanza made it 32-27, ENMU went its next 16 possessions without scoring.
It still took the Lady Reds a long time to catch up, with Kelley’s 3-pointer putting NSU in front for the first time 33-32 with just over 10 minutes left. Doss’ layup at the 8:23 mark ended the drought and kept ENMU within a point, but the Zias then went the next 5 1/2 minutes with only two free throws.
NSU opened a 46-36 cushion with just over four minutes left, but didn’t score after that. The Zias pulled to within three on two free throws by Riikka Lehtonen with 1:01 left, but potential game-tying 3-pointers in the remaining time by Heather Brown and Mika Robertson were off the mark.
Klafka said Northeastern’s defense had a lot to do with the Zias’ struggles.
“That’s a senior ballclub that won the North (Division) last year,” he said. “I thought they played a good, solid ballgame.”
Northeastern State 46, ENMU 43
Northeastern State (8-5) —
Rikki Hall 4-11 0-0 8, Jenna Miller 4-12 1-3 12, Cara Busson 1-1 0-0 2, Emily Eaves 0-4 0-0 0, Alicia Keys 1-4 0-0 3, Katy Kelley 4-10 0-0 12, Bobbi Jo Truelove 0-3 1-2 1, LeAndra Simmons 1-5 0-0 3, Veressa Gaston 1-3 3-5 5. Totals 16-53 5-10 46.
Eastern New Mexico (5-6) —
Tia Doss 2-5 4-4 8, Loren Scarlett 3-5 0-0 6, Tiana Bryant 3-13 0-0 6, Heather Brown 2-9 0-0 6, Mika Robertson 3-8 0-0 7, Riikka Lehtonen 1-1 4-4 7, Casey Rodriguez 0-0 0-0 0, Ashley Davidson 1-1 0-0 3, Brittney Gilles-pie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-42 8-8 43.
Eastern New Mexico 30, Northeastern State 27. 3-pointers —
Northeastern State 9-33 (Kelley 4-10, Miller 3-6, Simmons 1-3, Keys 1-4, Truelove 0-2, Eaves 0-3, Hall 0-5). Rebounds —
Northeastern State 29 (Keys 7), Eastern New Mexico 36 (Bryant, Scarlett 8). Assists —
Northeastern State 14 (Hall 4), Eastern New Mexico 7 (Robertson 4). Total fouls —
Northeastern State 11, Eastern New Mexico 14. Fouled out —
none. A —