Zias’ rally falls short against Southwestern

ENMU senior forward Til-Lois Fifer drives to the basket against Southwestern Oklahoma junior Alex Foster during the first half of Thursday’s Lone Star Conference women’s crossover game at Greyhound Arena.

CNJ staff

PORTALES — Shanessa Smith lead her team with 20 points as Southwestern Oklahoma stamped out a late rally by the Zias to win 77-65 on Thursday at Greyhound Arena in a Lone Star Conference crossover game.

ENMU erased an 18-point, first-half deficit to take the lead with less than eight minutes to go, but Southwestern got two 3-pointers from reserve Ashley Rush in an 8-0 run to regain control.

ENMU (1-4) trailed 41-26 at halftime and was still down by 16 points with 16 minutes left.

“We shot 25 percent from the floor (in the first half) and that puts you in a bind against good teams,” Zias coach Linden Weese said. “That is the reason why they are 5-0 because they know how to shoot the ball. They didn’t do anything we didn’t excepted them to do. We just stood back and let it happen.”

The Lady Bulldogs led 41-26 at halftime behind 9-of-16 shooting from 3-point range.

“We finally made a little run and dug in,” Weese said. “We made some shots, but we quit making them and then they started making their shots and going on runs.”

The Zias battle back to take a 56-54 lead, but the Rush-led countersurge by the Lady Bulldogs proved to be too much to overcome.

The Zias closed to 62-60 on a free throw by Nikki Ingram with 4:34 left, but Southwestern went on a 10-0 run highlighted by Natasha Brown’s 3-pointer to put the game out of reach.

Southwestern coach Kelsi Bond thought her team played well in general, but defense was a concern in the Zias’ run.

“I talked to (the players) about our defense,” she said. “I felt that our defense helped to get us the lead, and we went away from that. I tried to bring their focus back onto some thing we can control, which is our defense.

“You don’t always control the shots from the 3-point line, but we brought it back in so we could work on our composure.”

Junior guard Kiara Tate lead the Zias with 18 points, while junior forward Precious Herrin and sophomore guard Krista Ford each added 10 points.

The Zias host Cameron in another crossover game at 2 p.m. Saturday.