WT rolls to victory over Zias

Freedom New Mexico: Mickey Winfield ENMU’s Karen Grant takes a shot in the second half of the Zias’ game against West Texas A&M on Saturday night at Greyhound Arena.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — The score was virtually identical to the one three nights earlier. Still, West Texas A&M coach Krista Gerlich felt a lot better about it.

The Lady Buffaloes dominated from the get-go this time, hitting their first three shots while Eastern New Mexico University turned the ball over on its first three possessions in an 87-47 Lone Star Conference South Division rout Saturday night at Greyhound Arena.

On Wednesday night at Canyon, Texas, WT won 87-49. But the Lady Buffs (19-3, 7-0 South) struggled out of the gate, falling behind 7-1 and trailing for much of the first half.

“I thought we played a pretty complete game tonight,” Gerlich said. “We came out and held our foot on the pedal.”

Senior guard Emily Brister struggled badly with her shooting early, and also had all four WT turnovers in the first half. Still, she found the range eventually and finished with 23 points.

Senior forward Jamie Dreiling added 20 points and eight rebounds, while senior guard Courtney Lee added 17 points.

“Every time Emily made something negative happen on the offensive end, she made something positive happen on the defensive end,” Gerlich said of her standout player, who also finished with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The Lady Buffs cruised into a 30-10 lead with six minutes left in the half. The Zias turned it around briefly, going on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 13, but they were outscored 8-0 to end the half trailing 40-19.

Zias coach Linden Weese said his team didn’t have the same energy it had in Wednesday’s game.

“We were flat,” he said. “We had something going for a while the other night, but we didn’t get anything going this time.”

WT’s aggressive defense held the Zias to 29 percent floor shooting. Freshman guard Karen Grant played well in stretches for the Zias and finished with 11 points.

“I thought Karen and Ti-Lo (Til-Lois Fifer) did a nice job tonight,” Weese said. “Ti-Lo didn’t shoot it well, but she did well in other areas, and Karen brought us a little spark.”

Gerlich, trying to win the South title for the third time in her three years at WT, said she challenged her team to come out better in this one. In fact, five players did all of the scoring for the Lady Buffs over the first 34 1/2 minutes.

“They jumped on us last Wednesday,” she said of the Zias. “We wanted to jump on them early tonight, and we did a good job of that.”