DENVER — The Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team did a lot of things right Saturday, and it turned out to be just enough for their first win of the season.
The Zias shot 11-for-23 from 3-point range and put all five starters in double figures while leading virtually all the way in a 74-70 victory over Colorado State-Pueblo in the Metro State Thanksgiving Classic.
Junior guard-forward Cat Clay finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points on 5-of-9 from 3-point range and adding a game-high 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Lace Clark went 5-of-7 from 3-point distance and finished with 17 points, while sophomore guard Alex Ortiz had 11 points and a team-high seven assists, junior guard Tori Northcutt added 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists and freshman post P.J. Bryant finished with 10 points.
ENMU (1-4), which scored the game’s first six points, trailed twice by a point in the opening half, but outscored the ThunderWolves 8-1 to close the stanza for a 32-26 advantage and then built a 57-32 cushion with 13:17 to go on back-to-back 3-pointers by Clark and Clay.
Seemingly out of it, the ThunderWolves (2-2) mounted a near-miraculous rally.
Still down by 19 with under eight minutes left, Pueblo scored 16 consecutive points and closed to 66-63 on a layup by Caitlyn Jewell with 2:56 left.
Bryant then countered with a pair of baskets to reopen a seven-point margin for the Zias, ending a scoreless stretch of nearly five minutes for ENMU. With the score 73-70, Clay then hit a clinching free throw with four seconds left.
The Zias held the ThunderWolves to 33 percent shooting for the game, including just 10-for-41 from 3-point range. Guard Rachel Espinoza converted 9-of-9 free throws and finished with 16 points for the ThunderWolves, who have won three of the last four Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament championships, while guard Jennelle Branting added 12 and did all of her scoring on 4-of-8 from 3-point distance.
The Zias, who have played just one home game so far, beginning Lone Star Conference crossover play on Thursday with a 6 p.m. contest against Southeastern State at Greyhound Arena.