The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Peter Stein
Staff Writer 

ENMU women cruise to opening win

Balanced offensive effort results in 66-38 win over Highlands


November 11, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Eastern New Mexico guard Sydney Clark and New Mexico Highlands' DeAvion Allen tie up a loose ball in the first half of Friday's game at Greyhound Arena. The host Hounds won 66-38.

PORTALES - Opening night. There isn't much in sports that quite compares to it. And when opening night ends with a victory? Way cooler.

The Eastern New Mexico women's basketball team broke the seal on its 2018-19 season in way cool style Friday at Greyhound Arena, with a 66-38 victory over New Mexico Highlands.

It was also the first night of the Lone Star/Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Challenge, but being Day 1 of the season was even more important, more special. After a long offseason and a grueling exhibition stretch, the Greyhounds are back playing meaningful basketball.

"It's awesome," Eastern head coach Josh Prock said. "It feels good. I love these kids, I love my job. I don't feel like I go to work a day in my life. So this is great, we had a lot of fun."

"It's good," said Eastern senior post Shelby Jones, a Clovis High graduate who scored a game-high 12 points. "I think we had a pretty good crowd, too. It was nice to see a good turnout."

Friday night was perhaps a little extra special for Zamorye Cox. Just eight months ago, Cox was in Albuquerque helping the Portales girls team win a state championship. Friday, she was a freshman guard for Eastern New Mexico, making her official collegiate debut just a few miles from the Ram Athletic Center.

"It was a little bit different than I expected, especially coming from the exhibition games," Cox said. "But it was awesome to have a lot of the town supporting me, because they all know me. And it was really good to experience a different level; it was a really good learning experience."

Notching the 28-point victory wasn't bad, either.

"Yeah, absolutely. You get that first win," Prock said. "It's good for these young ladies and their confidence because we had three exhibition games that were just brutal, we played really good Division I teams. And for these girls to respond like this was huge for us."

Those three teams were Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado State, beating Eastern by an average margin of 44 points. The good news was that each individual margin kept getting lower, from 57 against Arizona to 48 against New Mexico to just 26 against Colorado State.

"We just looked like a completely different team from the team that played Arizona to the team that played Colorado State," Jones said. "We improved a lot over the three games. And coming here, meshing and playing well, it was good to see."

Eastern won its first opening tip of the season, and capitalized on that possession with a short right-baseline jumper from Jones. Highlands, though, proceeded to build an 8-4 advantage and led for most of the first quarter's remainder. By quarter's end, the game was tied at 18.

Highlands' Brianna Stewart began the second-quarter scoring with a turnaround hook shot that gave the Cowgirls a 20-18 lead, but soon after a Treyanna Clay foul shot brought the Hounds within a point, they went ahead by one on a Jones turnaround.

On the other end, Clay ripped down a defensive rebound, pushed the ball upcourt and fed Sydney Clark on the right side. Clark then drove the baseline, weaved around defenders and scored to give Eastern a 23-20 advantage. She drew a foul in the process and buried the free throw to make it a four-point game.

Freshman guard Natalie Stice laid one in after a Highlands turnover, and Clay hit from the right corner, giving ENMU a 28-20 lead.

With the Greyhounds up 28-23 in the first half's waning seconds, sophomore Alivia Lewis went off glass right before the buzzer, and Eastern led by seven at halftime.

Kevin Wilson

Eastern New Mexico sophomore Alivia Lewis goes up for a shot attempt in the first half of Friday's game. Lewis had four points and 11 rebounds in the 66-38 win.

ENMU began the third quarter by reeling off seven straight points to take command. A Clay putback, a right-elbow trey from Stice, Kamirah Decker scoring inside and a Lewis turnaround constructed a 37-23 Eastern lead.

Highlands never crept closer then 12 the rest of the way. In the fourth quarter, Jones gave the Hounds their first 20-point lead (52-32) of the new season, and they kept on rolling.

Not a bad opening-night turnaround.

"We got off sluggish offensively. We missed some shots there in the first half," Prock said. "But we knew that our shots were going to start falling. The thing that I want to see early on is can we guard, defensively are we there. We had 15 turnovers forced in the first half, 18 in the second half, so 33 for the game. I mean, we did a heck of a job there. So I'm very proud of our team and their defensive effort tonight."


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