Zias ride balanced attack to victory over Bronchos

ENMU senior Rochelle Vance looks for a shot against Central Oklahoma’s Taylor Allen during Saturday’s Lone Star Conference women’s crossover game at Greyhound Arena. (CNJ staff photo: Rick White)

By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball coach Linden Weese said he has been waiting for freshman post Rochelle Vance to have a breakout game.

Weese got his wish as Vance posted a double-double off the bench to help the Zias to an 81-67 victory over Central Oklahoma in a Lone Star Conference crossover game Saturday afternoon at Greyhound Arena.

Vance scored all of her 10 points at the free throw line and snagged 10 rebounds in a game Weese and Central Oklahoma coach Guy Hardaker called sloppy.

“I just had confidence in myself stepping to the line and knocking free throws down,” Vance said. “I knew if I kept on attacking them, they’d put me on the line.”

Seniors Elizabeth Richards and Heather Brown netted 15 points each to lead Eastern (9-4), and freshman Megan Kabrick chipped in 10 points off three 3-pointers in the first half.

“It was just an ugly game that turned into a free-throw fest,” Weese said. “We just made more than they did.”

Central freshman Taylor Allen led all scorers with 16 points, including a perfect 2-for-2 from beyond the arc.

With their two leading scorers, sophomore Lizzie Brenner and junior Cassidy Pillow, in foul trouble throughout the game, the Bronchos (6-7) dug deep into their bench. Brenner and Pillow played a combined 32 minutes in the loss.

“I think the Eastern girls played a little harder than we did,” Hardaker said. “We’re a team that typically forces a lot of turnovers, but they just outplayed us.

“(Lizzie’s) our scorer, and she never got any opportunity tonight.”
In a first half with eight ties and five lead changes, Eastern found itself up 42-41 at halftime. The Zias spent most of the second half with leads of 6-10 points.

Richards twisted in the lane for the layup after sophomore Lindsey Wood found her under the basket, capping a 10-2 Eastern run and forcing Central to call a timeout with 14:43 remaining in the game and the Zias up 57-47.

Freshman Ashley Davis’ 3-pointer put the Zias up 60-49. But Central roared back with a 6-0 run highlighted by freshman Cristina Yarbrough’s 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 60-55 with 11:15 left in the contest.

Early in the first half, Brenner scored Central’s first two baskets and controlled the inside for the Broncos, as the Zias struggled to kick-start their offense.

Eastern found its rhythm and went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Brown and a jumper in the lane by Richards, for 12-7 lead.