One of these days, the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team is going to quit knocking on the door and break it down.
The Zias played a rugged Lone Star Conference opponent tough at home for the third consecutive game on Saturday, only to fall to Midwestern State 70-67 at Greyhound Arena on a 3-point play by Mustangs guard Kirsti Degelia with nine seconds left in overtime.
ENMU (4-11, 2-7 LSC) had lost to Abilene Christian in double overtime and to conference-leading Tarleton State 78-70 in its previous two home outings. The Zias are 1-5 at home this season.
“We’re so close now,” Zias first-year coach Lindsey Wilson said. “We’re an offensive rebound away from winning this game.
“I couldn’t be happier with where we are right now. We’re not winning, which is the ultimate goal, but we’re so close.”
ENMU trailed all the way through regulation, falling behind by 15 points late in the first half, but forced overtime at 63-63 when senior forward Precious Herrin scored with 26 seconds left in regulation.
The Zias took their only lead at 65-64 on two free throws by senior guard Tori Northcutt with 2:25 left in the extra session. Senior guard Kiara Tate, who has given the team a second scoring option lately to go with Herrin, tied it 67-67 with 40 seconds to go, but Degelia drove the lane and flipped in a layup with the shot clock about to expire for MSU (11-3, 7-1).
Fouled by Tate, she added the free throw. ENMU freshman Reavis Best then came up short on a potential tying 3-pointer as time expired.
“I thought Eastern played a great game,” said Mustangs coach Noel Johnson, whose team extended its winning streak to seven games. “We have to do a better job of executing (with the lead). We panicked at times and didn’t get the ball where it needed to go.”
Tate, an 83 percent free throw shooting, scored a game-high 21 points but missed four of five free throws down the stretch. Herrin added 18 points, and both players just missed double-doubles with nine rebounds.
Wilson said the Zias were successful at taking the Mustangs out of their preferred style.
“They’re a team that likes to press for 40 minutes,” she said. “We took them out of it because we took care of the ball.”
Senior guard Savannah Carver led MSU with 15 points, while freshman guard Diana Jones scored 12 off the bench and senior forward Jazman Patterson added 11 points and nine rebounds. The Zias, a 70 percent free throw shooting team, went 17-of-28 from the line in the game while the Mustangs were 15-of-19.