WICHITA FALLS, Texas — The Eastern New Mexico University women made a valiant attempt to clinch a Lone Star Conference postseason tournament spot on their own Saturday, only to come up short when Midwestern State ended the game on a 9-2 run for a 64-55 victory.
The Zias, though, got the help they needed and will advance as the No. 8 seed despite Saturday's 64-55 loss to Midwestern State.
ENMU (10-16, 8-12) finished in a tie for eighth with idle Texas A&M-Kingsville, but advanced over the Javelinas by virtue of a win over second-place West Texas A&M. Abilene Christian (12-14, 7-13) could have earned the No. 8 spot on a tiebreaker, but the Wildcats lost at division winner Tarleton State 85-74.
The Zias face TSU (20-8, 17-3) in a 7:30 p.m. (MST) clash on Thursday at Allen, Texas.
ENMU built a 12-point lead late in the first half and led 30-20 at halftime before the third-place Mustangs (19-7, 15-5) chipped away.
The game was tied only at 2-2 until the 8:09 mark of the second half, when sophomore guard Kirsti Degalia's 3-pointer made it 40-40. MSU took its first lead at the 6:35 mark on a basket by Jazman Patterson.
The Zias tied the game three more times, the last at 53-53 on a basket by senior forward Precious Herrin with 2:16 left. Karissa Lang's basket put the Mustangs ahead on the next trip, and her steal and 3-pointer made it 58-53 with 1:28 left.
Savannah Carver led MSU with 18 points, while Degalia added 13 points and Cierra Thompson scored 10. Herrin moved into 19th place on the Zias' all-time scoring list with 17 points, giving her 820 for her career, while senior guard Kiara Tate added 10.
Both teams struggled to shoot, finishing around 30 percent and combining for just 5-of-29 from 3-point range. Both shot well at the line, though — MSU went 22-of-28, downing 18-of-22 in the second half, while the Zias were 20-of-24, including 15-of-18 after halftime,