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Zias slip past LCU 73-69

Freedom New Mexico: Clarence Plank Lubbock Christian’s Brittany Hampton, left, works to defend Zias sophomore guard Hannah Altheide during the second half of Tuesday’s exhibition game at Greyhound Arena. Altheide scored nine points and added five assists as the Zias beat the Lady Chaps 73-69.

PORTALES — Junior forward Precious Herrin scored 21 points and senior guard Cat Clay had eight of her 11 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, including two clinching free throws with three seconds left, as Eastern New Mexico University’s women pulled out a 73-69 win over Lubbock Christian on Tuesday in an exhibition basketball game at Greyhound Arena.

Sophomore guard Nikki Ingram added 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds and for the Zias, who trailed 64-61 with four minutes left before Clay’s 3-pointer ignited a 9-2 run.

“I thought the kids showed a lot of heart coming back after we lost the lead,” Zias coach Linden Weese said. “I don’t know if we could’ve done that last year, to be honest with you.

“I thought our guard play was good tonight. I was concerned about that going in without (injured senior guard Tori) Northcutt.”

Guard Brittany Hampton led the Lady Chaps with 18 points, while guard Renee Wilson added 13 and forward Emily Atkins 11.

The teams exchanged the lead throughout the first 11 minutes before a basket by Herrin put ENMU in front 22-21 and ignited an 11-2 run. The Zias took a 38-31 lead into halftime.

A basket by Krista Ford extended the lead to nine when play resumed, but the Lady Chaps went on a 19-4 surge, capped by Hampton’s layup at the 11:26 mark which gave LCU a 49-44 advantage.

Senior forward Kara Bible’s rebound basket started a counter surge for the Zias. Ingram’s 3-pointer with 4:57 to go capped a 17-11 run and gave ENMU a 61-60 advantage.

Wilson’s jumper put Lubbock Christian ahead 66-64 with 3:13 to go, but two free throws each by sophomore guards Hannah Altheide and Tara Johnson put ENMU back in front, and Ingram’s basket with 1:18 left made it 70-66.

Altheide finished with nine points and a game-high five assists in 30 minutes off the bench. The Zias struggled for most of the game from the line, but hit seven of their last eight down the stretch.

“I thought we came out and played really good,” said Herrin, a transfer from Jacksonville (Texas) College). “Lubbock Christian came out and played us really well.”

LCU, meantime, went 10-of-22 from 3-point range and 17-of-20 from the line, but the Zias limited them to 26 percent shooting in the first half and 36 percent for the game (21-of-59).

The Zias open the regular season on Saturday with a 5:30 p.m. tipoff against defending NCAA Division II runnerup Fort Lewis at Durango, Colo.