PORTALES, N.M. — Solid defense and balanced scoring led TWU to a 78-66 win at Eastern New Mexico on Thursday night.
The Pioneers (8-8, 4-3 Lone Star) won their third straight game.
Junior Barbara-Scott Kolb led three Pioneers in double figures with 13 points while senior Rebekah Cluley and junior Toree Mason added 11 points apiece.
Junior Ria Pateraki scored nine points for TWU and Ashley Salazar chipped in with eight.
TWU senior Mary Kovtun and freshman Deja Pointer each added seven points. Pateraki was the top rebounder with eight while Cluley handed out five assists.
The Pioneers opened the game hitting six of their first eight shots and built a 14-2 lead. TWU continued its hot shooting and extended the lead to 34-17 at the 2:58 mark.
The Zias regrouped and closed the half on an 8-3 run to cut the deficit to 12. The Pioneers shot 45.7 percent in the opening half while holding the Zias to six field goals.
Leading by 10 points at the 14:28 mark of the second half, TWU went on a 13-4 run to take the game’s biggest lead at 57-38. The Pioneers maintained the double-digit lead until Eastern New Mexico used a pair of 7-0 runs to cut the deficit to 70-64 at the 2:55 mark.
TWU responded with four straight points to push the lead back to double digits and went 4-for-4 from the free three line in the final seconds to seal the win.
“The key to this win was our defense,” TWU coach Beth Jillson said. “We played great defense for 40 minutes. Eastern New Mexico has good shooters and they can go on big runs, but we did not let that happen. On offense, we had a lot of players contribute. Ashley and Deja came off the bench and made some key baskets.”
After going to the free throw line just four times in the first half, the Pioneers shot from the stripe 24 times in the second and knocked down 23. The Zias hit 31 of 43 free throws.
TWU outrebounded the Zias 43-39.
“There were lots of fouls called,” Jillson said. “We were aggressive and got to the free throw line early in the second half. We were almost perfect from the line. Another key was our rebounding, and we took care of the ball.”
TWU will return to action at 2 p.m. Sunday when it hosts No. 7 West Texas A&M.