PORTALES — Say one thing for first-year Eastern New Mexico University women's basketball coach Lindsey Wilson — she has the Zias playing at a high level as they head down the stretch.
Clearly, ENMU played one of its better all-around games of the season Saturday, putting four players in double figures and never trailing in a solid 77-66 Lone Star Conference victory over Incarnate Word at Greyhound Arena.
Senior forward Precious Herrin scored 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, but junior guard Hannah Altheide lit up the Cardinals for 14 of her career-best 19 points in the first 10 minutes to help jump-start the Zias, who led by double figures much of the way.
The Zias (6-13, 4-9 LSC) avenged a 20-point loss to UIW in early December at San Antonio.
"That's the hottest streak I've had in a while," said Altheide, who hit two 3-pointers and 6-of-8 from the field in staking ENMU to an 18-14 lead. "I got open and I got a lot of good passes from my teammates."
Herrin, the LSC's leading scorer, and senior guard Kiara Tate have provided much of the offense this season, but the Zias are starting to get scoring from others. Tate struggled from the field, but hit 9-of-10 free throws in the second half to finish with 13 points while junior guard Tara Johnson added 10.
"When we play together, I feel we can beat anybody in our conference," said Altheide, who had 17 points at halftime to already tie her previous high set a week earlier against West Texas A&M. "Everybody stepped up today."
Senior guard Tori Northcutt added seven points, six rebounds and six assists.
"We practiced well the last couple of days, and when we practice well we play well," Wilson said.
Altheide, she added, works as hard as anybody.
"She puts the time in and it pays off," Wilson said. "She's in the gym probably more than anybody on the team."
The Zias did it against the LSC's No. 2 scoring defense (57.4 ppg).
"Hats off to Eastern; they're starting to do some things," said UIW coach Angela Lawson, whose team struggled to 36 percent shooting for the game. "I think coach Lindsey is doing a good job. We just ran into a buzzsaw."
Incarnate (10-9, 5-8) put three players in double figures, led by junior guard Ashlyn Green's 16, but the Cardinals didn't get anyone into double digits until well into the second half.
ENMU opened a 10-point lead on Johnson's 3-pointer with 6:49 left until halftime. The closest the Cardinals came after that was eight, twice early in the second half.
"They just outplayed us on both ends of the floor," Lawson said. "They forced us to have a bad day."