By Dave Wagner
It wasn’t pretty, but the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team went out on an up note Saturday night.
Junior post Tiana Bryant scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and senior post Loren Scarlett collected eight points, a career-high 15 rebounds and a team-high five assists as the Zias survived 28 turnovers to cruise past listless Texas A&M-Kingsville 52-33 in the Lone Star Conference South Division and regular-season finale for both teams at Greyhound Arena.
ENMU (13-14, 7-7 South) finished in a tie for fourth with Texas A&M-Commerce after notching its fourth consecutive victory. Kingsville, which shot a meager 19 percent from the field (11-of-58), scored only 71 points in its season-ending trip to West Texas A&M and ENMU after upsetting Abilene Christian 79-78 in overtime last weekend.
Bryant went 7-for-10 from the field for the Zias, who struggled to pull away from the Javelinas but were never in serious trouble.
“We didn’t play very well, but there were some factors in that,” he said. “I thought we made them take shots we wanted them to take. We didn’t always take care of the ball real well, but they’re quicker than we are in a lot of positions.”
ENMU trailed 2-0 in the first 30 seconds, but led for the final 35 minutes. Its biggest margin was 21 points in the final minute after a 3-pointer by Scarlett.
“I wanted to go out doing my best,” Scarlett said. “I haven’t been playing that way a lot this year, but I felt I owed it to the coaches and the team.”
Scarlett was one of four seniors recognized before the game — including Portales High grad Laci Lee. Lee, who played only nine games this year before being sidelined by a foot injury, was given a start by Klafka and immediately exited the game when the Zias conceded the opening tip.
“We came out kind of slow, I thought,” Scarlett said. “We let them get a lot of offensive rebounds (early), but coach called timeout and told us to pick up our defense.”
Scarlett played four years at ENMU — the first under Wayne Moore, the next two under Dan Buzard and her final year with Klafka, who took the team over after Buzard was hospitalized with a cancerous brain tumor over the summer.
“I’m proud of being able to play four years for Eastern, for coach Moore, coach Klafka and coach Buzard,” said Scarlett, from Throckmorton, Texas.
“Loren finished her senior year the right way,” Klafka said. “She went out and played real well on both ends of the floor tonight.”
The Zias hardly set the world afire in the first half, shooting 38 percent, but the Javelinas went the final 7 1/2 minutes without a field goal and ENMU cruised into halftime with a 23-16 lead.
The Zias took the lead for good with six consecutive points, breaking a 4-4 tie. Sophomore Heather Brown hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 12 minutes left for a 13-6 lead, and senior Mika Robertson’s 3-pointer made it 18-10 with just under eight minutes left.
After Kaipresha Price’s 3-point play pulled Kingsville to 18-13, the Javs managed only three free throws the rest of the half. Robertson spun into the paint to score with 5:13 left and added a free throw when she was fouled on the play, but the Zias went the rest of the half with just two more free throws.
The Javs were charged with only six turnovers in the half, but shot a woeful 5-of-32 (16 percent) from t he field. ENMU hit 8-of-21 floor shots and had 12 turnovers in the half.
Lone Star Conference South
ENMU 52, Texas A&M-Kingsville 33
Texas A&M-Kingsville (6-21, 2-12) — Angela Trotter 3-9 4-6 10, Aasia Betts 0-5 2-2 2, Nahogany Brown 1-7 0-0 2, Dely’la Hoodye 4-8 2-2 10, Kaipresha Price 2-9 1-2 5, Amanda Day 0-1 0-0 0, Kayla Kilgore 0-3 0-0 0, LaTasha Davis 1-8 0-1 2, Octavia Cuirtis 0-0 0-0 0, Octavia Hobbs 0-8 2-2 2. Totals 11-58 11-15 33.
Eastern New Mexico (13-14, 7-7) — Tia Doss 1-3 1-2 3, Mika Robertson 2-4 4-5 9, Loren Scarlett 2-4 2-4 8, Casey Rodriguez 2-6 0-0 5, Laci Lee 0-0 0-0 0, Riikka Lehtonen 1-1 0-0 2, Kelsie Hawkins 0-2 0-0 0, Heather Brown 3-10 0-0 8, Erika Cook 1-3 0-0 3, Ashley Davidson 0-0 0-0 0, Tiana Bryant 7-10 0-1 14. Totals 19-43 7-12 52.
Halftime — Eastern New Mexico 23, Texas A&M-Kingsville 16. 3-pointers — Texas A&M-Kingsville 0-11 (Kilgore 0-1, Price 0-1, Hobbs 0-2, M. Brown 0-3, Davis 0-4), Eastern New Mexico 7-20 (Scarlett 2-3, H. Brown 2-6, Robertson 1-2, Cook 1-3, Rodriguez 1-4, Hawkins 0-2). Rebounds — Texas A&M-Kingsville 33 (Betts 6), Eastern New Mexico 44 (Scarlett 15). Assists — Texas A&M-Kingsville 2 (N. Brown, Hoodye 1), Eastern New Mexico 15 (Scarlett 5). Total fouls — Texas A&M-Kingsville 17, Eastern New Mexico 20. Fouled out — Price. Technicals — Price. A — 550.