By Dave Wagner
Freshman forward Lacie Allen hit a 3-pointer from the key with 14 seconds left Thursday night, lifting Central Oklahoma to a 54-52 victory over Eastern New Mexico University in a Lone Star Conference women’s crossover game at Greyhound Arena.
Allen had missed her only previous 3-point attempt in the game and was 1-for-8 for the season before launching the game-winner after an ENMU backcourt traveling violation gave the Bronchos (7-4) the ball with 25 seconds left.
Allen finished with 11 points for UCO while sophomore guard Meghan Craig added 10. Junior post Tiana Bryant led the Zias with 16 points, and senior guard Mika Robertson added 10.
“We normally don’t want her to shoot the 3, but that’s the way basketball is,” UCO coach Shawn Williams said of Allen. “It was an ugly game for both teams, but I thought both teams played hard.”
The Zias (5-5) led most of the way, but both teams struggled to get into a flow. ENMU held the Bronchos scoreless for a stretch of nearly eight minutes beginning late in the half and opened a 34-27 lead with the first seven points after the intermission, but the Zias weren’t able to pull away.
Sophomore point guard Jennifer Bullis, filling in for injured starter Jackee Brown, hit three 3-pointers in the second half to help keep the Bronchos close.
“Jennifer Bullis helped us in the second half,” Williams said. “I thought she did a good job of filling in for Jackee.”
ENMU, which hadn’t played since Dec. 11, was without senior guard Laci Lee, nursing a foot injury. Acting coach Dustin Klafka said Lee’s status is yet to be determined, but she appears likely to miss Saturday’s crossover against Northeastern State and Monday’s LSC South Division opener against West Texas A&M, both at home.
“Any time you (are off for a) month it’s tough but we should’ve played better than that,” Klafka said. “You can’t let a game like that get down to the last one or two possessions.”
Williams said two-game road swings are tough, and she was glad her team could prevail with a trip to West Texas A&M coming up on Saturday.
“It takes a lot of toll on the kids, but I thought they hung in there and gave themselves a chance,” she said.
Klafka was concerned with his team’s 24 turnovers, including several coming in the closing moments.
“I really don’t think we played very good in any phase of the game, and as a result you get beat,” Klafka said. “We didn’t deserve to win that game.”
Both teams started out gunning from long range. Loren Scarlett’s 3-pointer gave the Zias a 3-0 lead.
Two 3-pointers by Craig put the Bronchos up 6-5, but treys by Heather Brown, Robertson and Scarlett helped ENMU open a 16-8 margin after seven minutes.
The Zias maintained the lead most of the rest of the half before cooling off in the final five minutes.
After a rebound basket by Bryant put the Zias up 25-20 with 5:10 to go, UCO went on a 7-0 run over the next two-plus minutes and took its first lead since early 27-25 when Craig converted an ENMU turnover into a layup with 3:01 left.
The only scoring the rest of the half came on two free throws by Robertson at the 1:11 mark, and the teams went into halftime tied 27-27.
The Zias shot just 32 percent in the half, but stayed in the game by sinking five of their 10 3-point attempts. UCO was 3-of-11 from long range and shot only 35 percent, the Bronchos converted 8-of-9 free throws.
Craig led UCO at halftime with eight points, while Scarlett and Bryant tallied six points apiece to share Zias scoring honors.
Central Oklahoma 54, ENMU 52
Central Oklahoma (7-4) — Amber Robertson 2-4 2-3 6, Lacie Allen 5-10 0-0 11, Jennifer Bullis 3-7 0-0 9, Meghan Craig 4-12 0-0 10, Laura Hamilton 2-11 2-2 7, Lindsey Wilson 2-6 0-0 5, Cassidy Pillow 1-4 4-4 6, Tiffany Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Lindsay Young 0-0 0-0 0, Micha Hester 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-55 8-9 54.
Eastern New Mexico (5-5) — Tia Doss 4-11 0-1 8, Loren Scarlett 3-6 0-0 8, Tiana Bryant 7-16 1-2 16, Heather Brown 2-8 2-2 7, Mika Robertson 3-6 2-2 10, Riikka Lehtonen 0-0 0-0 0, Casey Rodriguez 1-2 0-0 3, Ashley Davidson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 5-7 52.
Halftime — tied 27-27. 3-pointers — Central Oklahoma 8-24 (Bullis 3-6, Craig 2-6, Allen 1-2, Wilson 1-3, Hamilton 1-7), Eastern New Mexico 7-15 (M. Robertson 2-2, Scarlett 2-5, Brown 1-2, Bryant 1-3, Rodriguez 1-2, Davidson 0-1). Rebounds — Central Oklahoma 33 (Allen 5), Eastern New Mexico 35 (Doss 9). Assists — Central Oklahoma 13 (Bullis, Hamilton 4), Eastern New Mexico 14 (Robertson 5). Total fouls — Central Oklahoma 13, Eastern New Mexico 8. Fouled out — none. A — 310.