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Zias Finish Season on a High Note, Beating Midwestern State 73-83

Box Score

WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS — In its final game of the 2005-06 season, Eastern New Mexico University defeated Midwestern State University 73-63 in a Lone Star Conference South Division game on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Stockton Court. The Zias were led by Heather Brown (Jr., G, Hereford, TX/Hereford HS) and Tiana Bryant (Sr., P, Roswell, NM/University of New Mexico), who each finished with 27 points. Eastern finished the season with an 11-17 overall record and a 3-11 LSC South record. The Mustangs, who needed a win to qualify for the LSC tournament, ended their season with an 11-16 record and 5-9 in the LSC South.

In a tightly contested first half which included seven ties, Eastern overcame a four point deficit in the final 1:32 with an 8-0 run. Elliott started the run with a three pointer to get the Zias to within one (30-29). Eastern took a 32-30 lead with 50 seconds left as Brown connected on one of her four three-pointers in the game. Bryant made it a 34-30 score at the end of the half with a layup in the final seconds.

Thirteen seconds into the second half, the Mustangs’ Sonya Courtney converted on jumper to for a 34-32 score. Eastern scored the next five points, beginning with a jumper by Megan Ratliff (Jr., G, Farmington, NM/Cochise College) and then Bryant hit one of her two three-pointers in the game. Midwestern did get to within three (60-57) with 3:36 left, but Brown sank another three-pointer to thwart any comeback attempts. ENMU converted seven of eight attempts from the charity stripe down the stretch while its defense limited MSU to only four points in the closing minutes. Brown capped off Eastern’s scoring with her final three pointer with one second left on the clock.

Bryant, playing in her final college game, connected on 12 of 23 shot attempts and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Brown was an impressive 10-13 from the field, including hitting 4-5 three pointers. Rosalyn Elliott (So., G, Stanley, NM/Lubbock Christian University) also scored in double-digits with 11 points and dished out a game-high six assists. The Zia defense was solid, forcing 24 turnovers, including 12 steals and four blocks. Bryant recorded five steals and swatted three Mustang shots.

MSU also had three players score in double-figures, led by a game-high 23 points by Faurot. Katherine Maples recorded a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Katie Robertson scored 10 points and dished out six assists.

Bryant finished the season as the Zias’ leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 18.5 points and 8.4 boards per contest. Bryant scored in double digits in 27 of 28 games this season. She was the second leading scorer in the LSC and finished as the sixth best rebounder in the conference. On defense, Bryant recording 83 steals this year, good for third in the LSC, and blocked 34 shots to finish fourth in the conference. In her career at ENMU, Bryant scored 913 points, good for 13th place all-time at Eastern.

With an average of 12.9 points per game, Brown was the 19th leading scorer in the LSC. She was the second best in the LSC with an .843 free throw shooting percentage, hitting 70 of 83 attempts. From three-point range, Brown connected on .396 of her attempts, fifth best in the conference. She averaged 37.77 minutes per game, the most on the Zias and second highest in the LSC. Brown led the Zias with 3.35 assists per contest, 11th highest in the conference. She has scored 932 in her three years in a Zia uniform to rank 11th all-time at ENMU.

ENMU lost five players to season-ending injuries this year. Three players went down at the beginning of the season, including senior Riikka Lehtonen (P, Turku, Finland/Kilgore College) and returning junior Elizabeth Richards (F, Texico, NM/Texico HS). Junior college transfer Rochelle Vance (Jr., F, Duncanville, TX/Frank Phillips College) was the first to be lost this year, going down at the West Texas A&M Tournament in November. Toward the latter part of the season, Erika Cook (So., G, Portales, NM/Portales HS) and Brittany Gillespie (Fr., P, Aztec, NM/Aztec HS) were also lost to season-ending injuries.