COMMERCE, Texas — Sophomore Elizabeth Richards hit a key 3-pointer with 1:45 left and freshman Heather Brown and junior Laci Lee each converted 1-and-1 free throw opportunities in the final 32 seconds as Eastern New Mexico University held off Texas A&M-Commerce 79-74 Thursday night in Lone Star Conference South Division women’s basketball.
Lee scored 21 points, Brown finished with 17 and senior forward Jereena Bosket added 16 for the Zias (8-8, 2-1 South), who reached the .500 mark for the first time in more than a month and surpassed their win total for all of last season when they went 7-20.
Senior center Amy Putman scored 20 points for the Lions, while senior forward Tamikki Williams and junior guard Hazel Woods added 19 apiece. Sophomore forward Althea Byfield also reached double figures for TAMC (4-11, 1-1) with 10 points.
“I thought we played well enough to win, but we didn’t play well all the way through,” ENMU women’s coach Dan Buzard said. “(Commerce is) pretty athletic and pretty talented. We did some things down the stretch to hang on, but we also did some things to let them back in the game.”
ENMU scored the first four points and led 11-2 after less than four minutes. The Lions tied the score at 13 and 15, then took their only lead of the night 18-17 on one of Woods’ four 3-pointers at the 9:54 mark.
But on the next trip, Lee scored on a layup and Eastern maintained the lead the rest of the way.
The Zias led 40-25 with under three minutes left in the half and stayed in control much of the way, but they had to fight off several Commerce runs in the late going.
TAMC closed to 72-70 on a free throw by Putman with 2:42 left, but McCord’s 3-pointer for the lead was off the mark on the Lions’ next trip. Richards then knocked down her second 3-pointer of the night to give the Zias a cushion, only to have Commerce answer with baskets by Williams and Putman.
Brown, fouled by McCord, knocked down both shots for a 3-point lead with 32 seconds to go. Richards missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 18 seconds left, but Williams’ missed a 3-pointer for Commerce before Lee’s free throws iced the game with two seconds to play.
ENMU went 17-of-20 from the line, including 8-for-8 by Lee and 7-for-8 by Brown. The Zias dominated the boards 46-28, led by Lee with nine, and shot 45 percent from the floor, including 8-of-21 on 3-pointers.