By Dave Wagner
CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — When Tarleton State’s women are clicking on all cylinders, it’s pick your poison time.
After watching 6-foot-1 senior center Kiara Wright go 13-for-13 from the floor and score 39 points in last month’s matchup at Stephenville, Texas, Eastern New Mexico University tried to take her out of the mix as much as possible.
No problem. The TexAnns went 11-of-20 from 3-point range and simply had too much firepower for the Zias in rolling to an 89-64 victory at Greyhound Arena.
“They made some shots,” ENMU coach Joshua Prock said. “We had to adjust to that, and that opened up the middle for them.”
Wright remained perfect from the field against ENMU this year, going 6-for-6. She posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds in 25 minutes — the most anybody played for the TexAnns (19-6, 10-5 LSC). Six players scored in double figures for Tarleton.
“Our plan was to play her a sort of moderated box-and-1,” said junior forward Tori Tucker, who finished with a season-high 29 points for the Zias, to go with seven rebounds. “They ended up shooting the lights out. They’re a very complete, deep team, and obviously Kiara Wright’s an All-American.
“Our goal was to try an make somebody else beat us, and their shooters came out and accepted the challenge.”
Tucker did her best to keep the Zias around, especially in the first half when she shot 6-for-8 from the field with four 3-pointers for 18 points despite tweaking an ankle midway through the half. The Floyd product finished with a season-best 29 points — her fourth 20-plus point game of the season — but couldn’t prevent the Zias (6-18, 4-11) from losing their 10th in a row.
“It felt good,” she said of the first half. “We were having trouble scoring, so I took it upon myself to do it.
“We have a tough conference. You never know — you’ve just got to come to play every night.”
Senior center Shanae Lowrance led the TexAnns with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Tarleton shot 59 percent overall from the field had had 27 assists on its 33 baskets.
ENMU had two early leads and two early ties before the TexAnns hit three consecutive 3-pointers — two by sophomore guard Raven McGrath — to take the lead for good. Tarleton led 49-28 at the half.
Junior post Jasmine Johnson and sophomore guard Jordyn Cooper each added 10 points for the Zias, who trailed by 32 points with 12 minutes left but actually outscored the TexAnns — who didn’t empty their bench until the final couple of minutes — 25-18 the rest of the way.
Prock, whose team closes the regular season with a non-league makeup game against Western New Mexico on Thursday and the conference finale on Saturday against No. 5 West Texas A&M, both at home, wasn’t displeased with his team’s effort and energy.
“They’re a good team, and they played well,” he said. “I don’t think we played as hard as we could have the first half, but we picked it up in the second half. Tori played well from start to finish.”