By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
A switch from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone worked wonders Saturday for the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team.
Southeastern Oklahoma struggled to find any outside shooting, and the Savage Storm went the final 8 1/2 minutes of the half without a point as ENMU notched a 67-55 Lone Star Conference crossover victory at Greyhound Arena.
Point guard Tori Northcutt led the freshman-laden Zias with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Freshman Cat Clay added 10 points as 10 players scored for ENMU (3-8).
“We’ve improved in so many areas,” Northcutt said. “Everybody is stepping into their roles.”
The Savage Storm (7-6) missed its final 11 shots of the first half as ENMU turned an 18-12 deficit into a 29-18 lead. Southeastern then misfired on six attempts to start the second half before Jasmine Hughey’s inside basket pulled the Savage Storm to 34-21.
ENMU coach Linden Weese said part of the strategy of the zone was to keep the Savage Storm off the free throw line.
“We thought they liked to get themselves to the line,” he said. “We were going to make them have to shoot it.”
In the end, Southeastern finished at 25 percent from the field (20-of-80) and made only 3-of-29 from 3-point range.
“We tried to put it on their shooters,” Northcutt said. “I think we kind of disrupted their offense a little bit.
“We’re about to start the (LSC) South, and hopefully we can gain some confidence in this win.”
The Savage Storm did mount a late run, but never got closer than five points. Sophomore Megan Kabrick’s 3-pointer out of the left corner made it 54-44 with 5:46 left and gave the Zias some breathing room.
“I was real proud of them,” Weese said of his team. “I thought we executed longer and better tonight than we have. And we were able to make some free throws late (to help wrap up the win).”
Freshman forward Cat Clay added 10 points for the Zias, while freshman Til-Lois Fifer contributed nine points and a team-high 11 rebounds off the bench.
Hughey led the Savage Storm with 12 points off the bench, while sophomore forward Destiny Brown added 11.
Southeastern got off to a good start, opening an 11-5 lead by the first media timeout. Kacey Russell’s 3-pointer made it 16-12 midway through the half, and freshman Jasmine Hughey added a breakaway layup for a six-point lead with 8 1/2 minutes left.
But that was it for the half.
Bible scored three baskets from close range to put the Zias in front, and Northcutt’s 3-pointer made it 25-18.
Cat Clay added a basket in a scramble with just under a minute left and Blythe McPherson chipped in two free throws finish a 17-0 run and close out the half.