Incarnate junior helps push Cards past Zias

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks ENMU Krista Ford is fouled on the way to the basket in the second half of Saturday’s game against Incarnate Word at Greyhound Arena.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — Junior college transfer Taylor Murray hadn’t been having a good run in her first season at Incarnate Word — until Saturday.

Averaging less than four points and shooting just over 30 percent for the season, the 5-foot-6 junior guard erupted for 18 points to lead the Cardinals to a 62-50 Lone Star Conference South Division women’s victory over Eastern New Mexico at Greyhound Arena.

The left-handed Murray hit two 3-pointers in the first six minutes to help stake UIW (7-12, 3-4 South) to an early 14-6 lead, and she added several key baskets later on to help keep the Cardinals in front.

“Taylor’s had kind of an up-and-down year,” Incarnate coach Angela Lawson said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re freshmen or juniors, sometimes players have trouble making the transition (to Division II).

“She played today like we thought she could all along.”

Murray’s outing helped compensate for the fact that the Cardinals’ three scoring leaders were held in relative check by the Zias (4-15, 2-4).

Incarnate shot 47 percent from the floor, including 7-of-12 from 3-point range. Meantime, the Zias struggled to a 32 percent performance, going 3-of-21 from long distance, and had only two players with more than one field goal.

“We never could make enough plays in a row at either end,” ENMU coach Linden Weese said. “We’d get stops and couldn’t score, or we’d score and couldn’t get stops.”

The game had been scheduled for Wednesday, but the Cardinals couldn’t getting out of ice-plagued San Antonio. The rematch at UIW, originally set for Saturday, is now slated for Feb. 21.

Lawson said her team didn’t get to New Mexico until around 10 p.m. Friday night.

“I think with what my kids went though this week, I was proud of (their effort),” she said.

Junior forward Precious Herrin finished with 21 points on 10-of-18 shooting for the Zias, but the rest of the team went 9-for-41.

Senior guard Cat Clay, ENMU’s second leading scorer, dressed but did not play for what Weese said was a “coach’s decision.”

Herrin scored back-to-back baskets to give ENMU its only lead at 4-3. A 3-pointer by sophomore guard Krista Ford, who finished with 10 points off the bench, made it 18-13 midway through the half but the Zias never got any closer after that.

Weese said the Zias were aware of Murray.

“We knew she could shoot it out there,” he said. “We just couldn’t do anything about it.

“It all comes down to making shots — they did and we didn’t.”

Junior Chloe Wallace, Incarnate’s leading scorer for the season, finished with 11 points.