Zias’ comeback falls short at Abilene Christian

CNJ staff

ABILENE, Texas — Sophomore center Audrey Maxwell scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and junior forward Alex Guiton added 22 points Thursday night to lift Abilene Christian past Eastern New Mexico University 72-67 in a Lone Star Conference South Division women’s matchup.

The Wildcats (11-6, 2-1 South) held on after building an 18-point lead late in the first half. The Zias rallied to within a point with about eight minutes left, but were never able to overtake their hosts.

Senior forward Elizabeth Richards recorded her seventh double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Zias, while senior guard Heather Brown added 17 points.

Abilene Christian bolted to a 7-0 lead inside the first two minutes and dominated the first half, shooting 58 percent from the field and going 17-for-17 from the free throw line.

Leading by nine, a 13-4 run which began after a technical on the ENMU bench allowed the Wildcats to open a 37-19 lead with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Down 42-26 at halftime, the Zias held the Wildcats to two baskets in the first eight minutes of the second half and cut the margin to 46-41 on a layup by Richards with 12:17 to go.

Guiton and Jody Meyer scored baskets for the Wildcats, but a layup by Riikka Lehtonen, Brown’s three-point play and a 3-pointer by freshman Megan Kabrick pulled ENMU to 50-49.

The Zias stayed within striking range until the final moments, closing to 66-62 on Missy Kirkland’s 3-pointer with 1:08 to go. Maxwell’s basket and two free throws by Meyer pushed the lead back to eight with just over a half-minute remaining.

Richards went 10-of-17 from the field, and also had a game-high five assists to go with two blocks and three steals in 38 minutes. Senior forward Lacey Blau added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Abilene Christian, which committed 24 turnovers but posted a 43-27 margin on the boards.