By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
The Zias were in Saturday’s game against Texas A&M-Commerce for all of the first 10 minutes of the first half, then the Lions took control with experience and athleticism for a 75-54 victory at Greyhound Arena.
“I think it was just a bunch of great, experienced athletes against a bunch of young kids,” second-year Zia head coach Linden Weese said. “We’re just not as strong as they are, we’re not as physical and definitely not as experienced. Those things all factored into it today.”
Texas A&M-Commerce had three in double figures in the Lone Star Conference crossover game. Forward Katedria Mosley and guard Melissa Bratton both led all scorers with 15 points. Nola Taylor scored 13 points and Brittany Williams added 12.
ENMU freshman forward Cat Clay posted a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds, both team highs. The Zias’ top three scorers were freshmen, as Patricia Malouff added nine Samantha Matta six.
“Linden’s kids fought hard,” Commerce coach Denny Downing said. “Those freshmen will battle you. It’s gotta be exciting for him to coach those kids because he’s getting a lot out of them. It wasn’t a walk in the park for us.”
The numbers seemed to disagree with Downing’s assessment. The Lions shot over 45 percent from the field, compared to 31 percent shooting from the Zias.
The Zias also turned the ball over 30 times, leading to 32 Commerce points.
In a rare statistical advantage, the Zias out-rebounded the Lions 49-39, including 16 offensive boards.
“We knew coming in that we had to do two things: rebounding and not turn it over,” Weese said. “I thought we rebounded very well against them, but you just can’t turn it over against a team like that and give them more opportunities.”
The Zias grabbed a quick 7-4 first half lead after Megan Kabrick and Samantha Matta hit jumpers and Clay connected for a three-pointer. Texas A&M-Commerce went on an 11-2 scoring run to take a 15-9 advantage and never looked back.
Texas A&M-Commerce led late in the first half, 44-18, before the Zias went on a 13-5 scoring to bridge the halves.
But Commerce scored eight straight points to end any comeback hopes.
“The longer we went, the more we figured some things out,” Weese said. “We understand now how physical it’s going to be in league play and that’s the first time most of those kids have seen that. They’re the most physical team we’ve played by far.”
The Zias begin a three-game road trip Thursday when they travel to Northeastern Oklahoma.