Zias top Kingsville, end losing streak

CNJ staff

KINGSVILLE, Texas — For a change, the Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball team was playing from ahead, and there was no way the Zias were going to let this one slip away.

Senior forward Elizabeth Richards posted her 10th double-double of the year with 26 points and a career-high 19 rebounds and ENMU led for the last 38 minutes in posting a 76-63 Lone Star Conference South Division win over Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday.

The Zias (10-10, 1-7 South) snapped a six-game losing streak — all but one coming on the road — in which they had rallied back to tie or lead in three games where they had trailed by at least 16 points. One loss came on a buzzer-beater, another was in overtime and a third came in double overtime.

If the old adage applies that “anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Zias coach Linden Weese figures his squad could be in for a quick turnaround in fortune.

“We ought to be rock-solid, if that’s the case,” he quipped.

This time, after guard Dyana Bullinger gave the Javelinas (8-12, 3-4) a 3-0 lead with a 3-pointer 16 seconds in, the Zias responded with a 12-0 run capped by senior guard Heather Brown’s 3-pointer. Their margin was in double figures for much of the game.

Bullinger’s 3-pointer pulled Kingsville to 51-46 with 11:27 to go, but treys by Missy Kirkland and Lindsey Wood pushed the lead back to 11.
“That kind of put us over the top,” Weese said.

Brown finished with 21 points, including 9-of-9 from the free throw line, and added a game-high six assists. She played all but one minute and Richards was in for all but two.

Senior post Riikka Lehtonen added 10 points before fouling out late.
Brown did much of her damage down the stretch, including six free throws over the final three minutes.

“I guarantee you she gets the quietest 21 points around,” Weese said of Brown. “Elizabeth just had a great game, and Riikka got us off to a good start. If she can score early for us, I think it helps the rest of the kids.”

Bullinger went 4-of-9 from 3-point range and led the Javs with 14 points, while senior Angela Trotter finished with 11.

ENMU has played all but two of its division games on the road and now will finish with five of its last six in Greyhound Arena.