By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
PORTALES — The Zias had to like their double-figure lead early in the second half. East Central just ended up liking its double-figure lead a lot better.
Danielle Cox had a game-high 31 points and 12 rebounds, helping the visiting Lady Tigers rally past Eastern New Mexico University 83-72 in Saturday’s Lone Star Conference women’s crossover game at Greyhound Arena.
Angela Kalanoska added 16 points and Casi Rawls 14 for the Lady Tigers (5-2), who trailed 59-50 with 11:30 to go before a 27-7 burst sent them home breathing a sigh of relief.
“We were very fortunate,” East Central coach Kent Frantz said, “because you don’t come from 12 down on the road and win in this league very often.”
The Zias led by 14 late in the first half behind a balanced scoring effort — 41 points at halftime and Kassie Daugherty leading the attack with six points. But Eastern was done in by 28 percent second-half shooting.
“The shooting percentage was the difference,” Zias coach Linden Weese said. “Same shots, same players.”
And when the Zias (1-6) missed, Frantz said a key point was to make sure ENMU didn’t get second shots. The Zias finished with just seven second-chance points.
“We started getting some stops, but we got some defensive rebounds, and that’s been our Achilles heel,” Frantz said. “Because we were able to get defensive rebounds, we could get out in transition and get the numbers. We could get our guards in the open space or get shots from the outside.”
It was a different story for the Zias, who couldn’t match the balance of the first half — where a 15-2 run featured five different scorers and pushed the lead to 41-27.
“They played with more heart than we did,” Weese said. “We stood around waiting for someone else to make the play, and they were the one making the plays.”
Alex Ortiz had 11 points, while Cat Clay and Daugherty added 10 each for the Zias.
Both teams have a week off before their next games on Saturday. The Lady Tigers host Tarleton State Saturday, while the Zias face Cameron on the road.
Weese isn’t sure how many of Saturday’s second-half mistakes the Zias will be able to correct in that time.
“Finals come first,” Weese said. “Finals week is always hard. We’ll see what happens.”