Zias can’t hold 16-point lead

By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Halftime came at just the right time Thursday for the Texas A&M-Commerce women.

Down by 16 points in the first half, the Lions roared back behind double-doubles from Althea Byfield, Katedria Mosley and Portia Mitchell and edged the Eastern New Mexico University Zias 71-67 in a Lone Star Conference South Division matchup at Greyhound Arena.

Mosley, a 6-foot freshman, compiled a season-best 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lions (7-9, 2-1 South). Mitchell, a 6-4 junior, had 14 points and 13 boards and Byfield added 14 points and 11 boards.

In addition, senior guard Hazel Woods overcame a slow start to finish with 14 points and hit a tie-breaking 3-point basket — Commerce’s only one of the night — with 5:34 to go.

“That’s how we’ve played all year,” Commerce coach Denny Downing said. “We’ve been down 16 points the last three games we’ve won now. We’re capable of scoring in big numbers.”

Sophomore guard Heather Brown led the Zias (6-9, 0-2) with 18 points and senior guard Mika Robertson finished with 17. ENMU also got a big lift off the bench from Portales freshman Erika Cook, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points.

The Zias got off to a good start. Leading 19-17 with 9 1/2 minutes to go in the half, they went on a 14-0 run that featured 3-pointers by Brown and Robertson for a 33-17 cushion with six minutes left.

The Lions scored the first seven points when play resumed to get back in it, but they didn’t take the lead until Woods’ 3-pointer from the left wing made it 65-62.

“I think we benefited from halftime,” Downing said. “It’s hard (for the team in front) to come out with the same emotion, and they had totally dominated the first half.”

ENMU interim women’s coach Dustin Klafka said he knew the game wasn’t over despite the Zias’ big lead.

“When they want to play, they’re good,” he said of the Lions. “It was just the little things that hurt us tonight. We gave up six or eight points on transition defense, and you just can’t do that.

“It’s hard to chase those athletes around, and we weren’t getting the calls. Offensively, we played as well as we have this year. In the first half we did a good job of doubling their big kids and neutralizing Woods.”

Woods, the second-leading scorer in the LSC, didn’t score for the first 15 minutes.

“I told Hazel that when you’re the (second-leading) scorer in the conference, they’re going to beat you up,” Downing said. “But Eastern did a good job of shutting her down in the first half.”