Hounds hold on against Pioneers
February 16, 2020
PORTALES — If you like offense, Thursday night’s Texas Woman’s/Eastern New Mexico University women’s basketball game was not for you.
Offense at Greyhound Arena was at a premium, especially during a third-quarter clank-fest for both teams.
But, a lot of that was due to defense, and the Greyhounds did emerge with a 50-41 victory. So, Eastern head coach Josh Prock will certainly take it.
“Defense this time of year is what wins championships,” Prock said. “Defense wins. So you have to be able to guard to win games. When we look at the boxscore, we held them to 14 (points), 10, 8 and 9. That’s pretty good defense.”
The Greyhounds couldn’t finish out the week with a second win, falling to Tarleton State 54-52 on Saturday.
Eastern’s defense was especially impressive when it was especially important — late in the fourth quarter. The game was still either team’s with a minute to go and ENMU leading only 41-39. Defense and some timely late-game foul-shooting enabled the Hounds to outscore TWU 9-2 over that last crucial stretch.
“I think we just knew that we had to stay focused,” Eastern redshirt freshman guard Natalie Stice said, “because our offense wasn’t really flowing all game. Our defense picked the momentum up a little bit.”
And that momentum did in Texas Woman’s.
“I didn’t think we were real hot the whole game,” TWU head coach Beth Jillson said. “We just scored, what, 41 points? That’s a very low-scoring game for both teams. It was a defensive battle.”
Eastern clung to a 26-24 lead at halftime, which became a 26-25 edge 57 seconds into the new half, when TWU’s Ngozi Obineke went 1-for-2 from the foul line.
After the teams exchanged missed field goals, a fast-break layup by Stice made it a 28-25 game. Thanks to some more misses by both teams and Eastern going 0-4 from the foul line, the next points weren’t scored until 6:22 remained in the third quarter, when TWU’s Ma’K’La Woods hit 1-of-2 from the stripe, bringing the Pioneers within 28-26.
That was followed by a typical sequence for the quarter — an Eastern miss, a Texas Woman’s miss, then Eastern losing the ball out of bounds.
To the Greyhounds’ credit, they never relinquished the lead in the ice-cold third quarter, or during the entire second half. To the Pioneers’ credit, they hung in with Eastern until that last critical two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.
In fact, ENMU led only 34-33 with almost nine minutes still left in the fourth.
2018 Portales High graduate Zamorye Cox gave the Greyhounds’ some breathing room by knocking down a right baseline jumper from the right side, and with less than eight minutes to play in the quarter, Jasmine Williams followed up a Natalie DeLonge miss with a left inside putback, giving the Hounds a 38-33 lead.
The scoring drought then resumed, though, and it wasn’t until 5:54 remained that DeLonge went strong to the hoop off a Cox dish and was fouled. DeLonge went 1-for-2 from the line to give Eastern a six-point advantage.
However, four straight points by Texas Woman’s — a catch-and-shoot by Obineke and a short baseline jumper from Brielle Woods — made it a 39-37 contest.
After a pair of DeLonge free throws with 2:58 to go and a Ma’K’La Woods shot that slowly swirled in, the margin was two again (41-39) before Eastern had that last big surge.
Cox began the run with 59.1 seconds left by heading to the line on a loose-ball foul against Texas Woman’s. She sank both free throws to give Eastern a 43-39 edge.
With 40.4 seconds left, Stice hit a pair of foul shots that handed the Greyhounds a 45-39 lead. On the ensuing Texas Woman’s possession, Stice came up with a steal, drove all the way for a layup, and was fouled while making that shot. After Stice buried the and-one, Eastern had a 48-39 advantage with 38 seconds remaining.
“That was huge,” Prock said of Stice’s big play on both sides of the floor.
Two different foul-line visits for Texas Woman’s had a combined 0-for-4 result, and with 29.8 seconds left, Cox hit a pair of foul shots that finally stretched the Greyhounds’ lead into double-digit territory, 50-39.
In the game’s waning seconds, Stice came up with another steal, but dished to Cox, because the Hounds didn’t need to score anymore, they just needed to whittle away at the clock.
Soon, it was over. Not a work of art, but a victory nonetheless, which counts just the same as all the others.
“I was just proud of the girls,” Prock said. “I know we struggled offensively, but that comes and goes. Against Angelo (State) we scored 84 points and tonight we scored 50. But you’ve got to be able to guard; if we didn’t guard we would’ve got beat.”
Tarleton State 54, ENMU 52 (Saturday) — Mackenzie Hailey had 12 points to lead a balanced effort, and the visiting TexAnns shocked the Greyhounds with a 12-0 run in the last two minutes.
The Greyhounds posted a 52-42 advantage ona pair of Cox free throws before the wheels fell off. Hailey’s layup on the ensuing possession started a run where five different Tarleton players scored.
Down 52-48 following a Kandyn Faurie layup, the TexAnns got a turnover and took advantage of a technical foul on Cox. Kaitlyn Guillory hit one of the two techs, and a Kylie Collins 3-pointer knotted things up.
Following a missed Hounds 3-pointer, Tarleton State went ahead on a Kandyn Faurie layup and made the stop on a last-second layup attempt by Cox.
Cox and Stice each had 15 to lead the Hounds.