By Dave Wagner
CANYON, Texas — Turnovers are still a problem, and the shooting comes and goes.
Still, the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team got a pretty good idea of where it stands after rugged games against West Texas A&M and Emporia State over the weekend in WT’s Thanksgiving Classic.
The Zias lost to both teams, but played pretty well after a dreadful first half in Friday’s 75-54 loss to WT.
On Saturday, ENMU (2-3) erased a double-figure deficit to tie unbeaten Emporia State with under 14 minutes left before the Lady Hornets pulled away to an 83-73 victory.
After committing 16 turnovers and shooting just 23 percent (5 of 22) in the first half against WT, the Zias gave a better account of themselves the rest of the weekend.
“I still think we’ve got a shot to play a lot better this year,” said ENMU coach Dan Buzard, whose team went 7-20 last year in his first season at the helm. “(Friday’s loss) was a little discouraging because we let (WT) manhandle us; they totally controlled the first half of the game.”
The Zias, who had only four second-half turnovers against WT, committed 20 on Saturday against Emporia State (5-0). The problem was that they forced the Lady Hornets into just nine floor errors.
“I know we’re going to learn from this,” said forward Jereena Bosket, the team’s only senior. “We just have to pick it up from here and not let it get us down. We are a better team than we were last year.”
Bosket said Eastern didn’t match WT’s energy at the start, and as a result fell behind 43-20 at halftime.
“We didn’t have enough intensity in the first half,” she said. “We need to come out in the first half with as much intensity as they did.”
The Zias had trouble containing post players Celeste Stevenson of WT (25 points) and Casey Henningsen of ESU (18 points, nine rebounds). In Friday’s game, Stevenson often had an easy time getting to the basket.
“Celeste Stevenson is a great player, but there’s no way anybody should get 25 points on us if we play defense the way we can play,” Buzard said.
Still, he acknowledged that WT and Emporia were a little quicker and stronger overall than their first three opponents. “They just do things at a higher level,” he said.
While Bosket (15 points and a game-high nine rebounds) was the only ENMU player to score in double figures against WT, four Zias reached double digits on Saturday.
Portales junior Laci Lee had game highs of 22 points and 11 rebounds against Emporia while Texico sophomore Elizabeth Richards flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 14 points, 10 boards and seven assists.
ENMU shot 45 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Lady Hornets 46-34.
“We’ve got something to prove,” said Bosket, who had 12 points and three rebounds on Saturday. “The last couple of years the program hasn’t been that good, but we need to show everybody that we’re much better.”