By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico
PORTALES — Everything aligned for a Zia victory Saturday night. Somebody forgot to tell Leah LeMaire and Angelo State.
LeMaire hit 1-of-2 free throws with 2.3 seconds left, and the visiting Rambelles rallied in the final minutes to steal a 64-62 victory in a Lone Star Conference South Division battle.
Camille Perkins had 20 points to lead three in double figures for the Rambelles (10-10, 3-3 LSC South), who won despite trailing for 39 minutes and 28 seconds in the 40-minute contest, starting the game 1-of-13 from the field and allowing a season-high 55 percent shooting for the Zias.
“We’ve had to fight for everything we’ve got, win or lose,” Angelo State coach Sally Brooks said. “Nothing’s come easy.”
Perkins, a 60 percent free-throw shooter coming in, was 13-of-16 and hit four in the final 38 seconds to knot things up at 62. Brooks said that’s just an example of how topsy-turvy the season has been.
“We’re going to be really hard to beat if we make our shots … at some point.”
The Zias, meanwhile, did make shots and got a balanced effort — Til-Lois Fifer had 14, including a key three-point play in the final minute, and freshman Hannah Altheide scored a season-high 13.
But balance, and shooting, and rebounding (a 32-26 edge) weren’t problems, Zia coach Linden Weese said.
“We shot pretty good. What killed us was turnovers,” Weese said. “We had 22 turnovers and we didn’t keep them off the free-throw line.”
With a 24-of-33 night from the stripe, the Rambelles hit eight more shots than the Zias (6-14, 1-4) attempted.
“We’d turn it over before they fouled us,” Weese said.
Case in point: With 9.2 seconds left in a 62-62 game, Zia point guard Tori Northcutt drove the lane. Angelo State’s Ashley James grabbed the ball in traffic, and LeMaire got fouled in the ensuing pileup under the basket.
Early on, it looked like the Zias would claim their second division win easily, as the Zias slowly took a 16-5 advantage.
But the Rambelles fought back with defense, keeping Cat Clay scoreless after halftime.
“I thought our pressure defense hurt Eastern,” Brooks said. “We did a better job guarding 5 (Clay) and 4 (Altheide).”
The Zias will have to forget the loss pretty quickly, with games against No. 11 West Texas A&M Wednesday at home and Saturday in Canyon.
“That’s one we definitely should have won,” Weese said. “The kids know that.”