PUEBLO, Colo. — Western State (Colo.) went on an early 8-0 run to lead for good, then used another 8-0 surge to take control midway through the opening half and the Mountaineers cruised to a 68-52 win over Eastern New Mexico University on Saturday in the Al Kaly Shriners Classic, hosted by Colorado State-Pueblo.
Western State, winning for the first time in three games this season, shot just 32 percent in each half, but led by double figures almost all the way after Jessica Lankston hit two free throws to make it 24-13 with 5:40 left in the first half.
Lankston, who went 11-of-12 from the line for the game, led all scorers with 19 points for the Mountaineers, while Katie Hall added 18 points and 12 rebounds and Nikki Trujillo scored 14. The Mountaineers overcame their poor shooting from the floor by hitting 24-of-31 free throws, including 12-of-13 in the first half, and limiting the Zias to 29 percent.
It was ENMU’s second consecutive poor shooting night in the weekend event after the Zias (1-3) shot 50 percent or better in each of their first two games.
ENMU scoring leader Precious Herrin came off the bench in this one, but still finished with a team-high 16 points in 22 minutes while shooting 6-of-10 from the floor. The rest of the Zias went 9-of-42.
Freshman guard Amber Williford added 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Zias.
Senior guard Tori Northcutt answered a 3-pointer by Lankston with one of her own for a 3-3 tie after 2 1/2 minutes, but the Mountaineers put together their first 8-0 run on five points by Brooke Pendergraft and a 3-pointer by Taylor Murray.
After the Zias closed to 11-9 on a basket by Herrin with 12:54 left in the half, Pendergraft’s two free throws set off the second 8-0 run for the Mountaineers.
The only time the Zias got the margin under double figures in the second half came on a basket by guard Kiara Tate with 3:30 left, making it 60-51. The Zias were limited to one free throw the rest of the way.
ENMU travels to Albuquerque to face the New Mexico Lobos in a 7 p.m. tipoff on Tuesday.