Zias edged in double overtime

CNJ staff

WICHITA FALLS, Texas — Junior guard Stacey Staten hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to tie the score in the first overtime, then converted a 3-point play at the start of the second OT and Midwestern State went on to claim an 81-75 victory over Eastern New Mexico University on Thursday in a Lone Star Conference South Division women’s game.

Freshman forward Andrea Buben led four players in double figures with 24 points for the Mustangs (9-8, 2-3 South), who went just 3-of-9 from the field in the two extra sessions but converted 23-of-33 free throws in that time. Three starters fouled out and three others finished the game with four fouls for the Zias, who lost their fourth in a row.

“I was proud of the kids effort,” ENMU coach Linden Weese said. “I hope they’ll keep their heads up; if they keep fighting, we’ll get one somewhere.

“I’m just disappointed for the kids.”

Senior forward Elizabeth Richards had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Zias (9-8, 0-5), her eighth double-double of the season, as the Zias rallied from an 18-point deficit with less than 11 minutes left in regulation to take a three-point lead in the first OT. Senior guard Heather Brown added 15 points before fouling out on a charge call as regulation time expired, while reserves Roni Gomez and Missy Kirkland added 10 points apiece.

“Elizabeth Richards did a whale of a job trying to hold us together (in the oavertimes),” Weese said. “And Missy Kirkland and Roni Gomez also did a nice job.”

The Mustangs erased a 2-0 deficit with a 16-2 run that spanned nearly six minutes. ENMU got as close as six before Midwestern rebuilt the margin to 36-23 at halftime.

When play resumed, the Mustangs went on a 7-2 run for a 43-25 advantage. They led twice more by 18, the latter at 52-34 on two free throws by Staten with 10:39 left.

Brown’s 3-pointer kicked off a 9-0 run for ENMU, and another 7-0 rally made it 55-52 with five minutes left. The Zias closed to within a point three times before a 3-pointer by Roni Gomez with 1:39 left made it 62-62, and neither team scored again in regulation.

Gomez put the Zias up 65-64 on a free throw with 2:55 left in the first OT and Richards basket made it a three-point lead with just over two minutes to go, but the Zias were unable to score on their final three possessions of the period.

Staten’s 3-point play and a basket by junior forward Andi Richardson gave Midwestern a five-point lead with three minutes left in the second OT. The Mustangs converted six consecutive free throws in the final minute to seal the win.