ACU tops Zias in double OT

Dave Wagner

Eastern New Mexico University’s women gave a game effort Saturday night. They finally ran out of bullets in the second overtime.

The Zias led most of the way, but eventually lost four players to fouls and dropped a 92-85 Lone Star Conference decision to Abilene Christian at Greyhound Arena.

Sophomore forward Reneta Marquez, averaging nine points coming in, led five Wildcats in double figures with a career-best 25 points as ACU (4-4, 1-3 LSC) survived the loss of star sophomore guard Mack Lankford to a shoulder injury late in regulation.

“She can hit big shots for us,” ACU coach Shawna Lavender said of Marquez. “She’s capable of scoring a lot of points.”

Lankford, the conference’s leading scorer, struggled through a 2-for-14 night from the field and finished with 10 points before landing on her shoulder scrapping with ENMU senior Tori Northcutt on a held ball with nine seconds left in regulation.

“I told the girls that this was really the most important game of the year for us,” Lavender said. “I didn’t feel like we could afford to be 0-4.”

ENMU (2-8, 1-4) lost senior forward Precious Herrin, the LSC’s No. 2 scorer, to fouls with a minute left in regulation. Herrin finished with 18 points, while junior guard Tara Johnson of Portales led ENMU with easily a career-best 21 points.

“We played hard tonight,” ENMU coach Lindsey Wilson said. “We played through adversity tonight. It’s just unfortunate we came out on the losing end, but I’m really proud of (the team).”

Freshman Paige Parliament and junior Kelsey Smith, two of ACU’s four players at 6-feet or taller, finished with 18 points each while reserve guard Cecilee Perez added 13. Parliament just missed a double-double with nine rebounds.

Guards Karen Grant (13) and Lace Clark (10) were also in double figures for the Zias.

Clark got the Zias off to a flying start with a basket and two 3-pointers for an 8-1 lead, but the Wildcats scored the next nine points. ENMU regained the lead at 14-13 on a basket by Herrin with 12:40 left in the half and stayed in front through most of the second half.

Johnson scored five of the Zias’ eight points in the first OT, including two free throws to tie it 80-80 with 52 seconds left. Her halfcourt shot at the buzzer was off the mark.

Smith’s basket with 2:56 left in the second OT put the Wildcats in front for good. Reserve Darrien Williams’ 3-pointer with 46 seconds left gave ACU a 90-85 cushion.

Wilson had no complaints after the loss.

“We realized we could play without Precious, and I think that gave us confidence,” she said. “Everybody that plays can step up. We’ve just got to play with confidence.”