Women’s basketball holds nerve to earn fourth straight win at the Dome

Mustangs survive second half comeback to carry on momentum in Lone Star Conference


Sharome Burton

Women's basketball acknowledge crowd while singing school song after win. Photo by Sharome Burton. Feb. 2.

Women’s basketball’s strong run of form at the D.L. Ligon Coliseum continued on Feb. 2 with a hard-fought 75-71 win against higher-ranked Eastern New Mexico, improving the women’s record to 5-7 in Lone Star Conference play and 8-11 overall.

Women’s basketball coach Noel Johnson’s team built a commanding 47-30 lead by half-time before ENMU rallied in the second half to bring the scores within three points with 20 seconds remaining. ENM was forced to start fouling intentionally, which set the stage for pre-physical therapy sophomore and starting point guard, Chelsie Kizart to sink four straight free throws and seal a close home victory.

Johnson said she was pleased with the endgame but admitted complacency set in after the break.

“I thought it was the third quarter – we got satisfied,” Johnson said. “We gave up too many threes but I am so proud of these young ladies for responding the way they have and continuing to grind out possessions and quarters. Even though the third quarter was not what we wanted, our first half performance was indicative of where their mind is right now and we have to carry that to next week.”

Johnson said the whole camp was uplifted by the result against the formidable ENM team, which had only lost two LSC games ahead of Saturday.

“It gives you a lot of confidence, not only for the players but as the coach that you’re continuing to prepare them correctly. We have to continue to do that and stay within who we are and what we’re doing,” Johnson said.

Kizart, who tallied a career-high 19 points as she marshaled her team to victory said there was extra motivation heading into the game.

“I feel like we approached the game as if we had something to prove because when went to play ENMU at their place we didn’t do too well,” Kizart said. “We’re a team that can compete with anybody. We’re not a team that’s gonna get down and let anyone roll over us.”

She said maintaining their four-game home-winning streak was crucial at this point in the season.

“It’s very important. The two games before this, we went down pretty hard. So just coming back in the second round of conference showing people that this is something we really want. We want to be in the conference tournament – this is something that we really want,” Kizart said.

A strong offensive performance also came from marketing junior, guard Liz Cathcart (16 points on 7-from-12 shooting), while health science sophomore center Hannah Reynolds dominated both ends of the floor with (11 points, 13 rebounds).

Reynolds said she was challenged to step up her game on Saturday.

“My coach talked to me before the game saying that I needed to be big this game, so I focused on ‘if I’m not doing enough on offense’ then I’m gonna go on defense and get every rebound and vice versa. I just tried to stay on both glasses on both sides,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds believed the game got too close for comfort in the second half.

“It definitely got close – way closer than it should have – but we came together whenever they were rallying up and that’s the most pivotal time we have to be together,” Reynolds said.

Holding on to the win is a sign of increasing maturity, according to Johnson.

“It shows that they’re growing as a team. If you look at us across the board we are a young team except for two seniors [Kizart and marketing senior, Anni Scholl] and a fifth-year senior and so we’ve gotta grow in every situation like that.

Johnson said the rest of the month could have a big impact on the team’s place in the Lone Star Conference.

“It’s gonna be interesting to see, as we go into February – if we can just take care of what we need to do – how it’s all gonna shape out with our positioning in the league.”

The next game is a trip to Stephenville, Texas to play rivals Tarleton State on Feb. 7.

“It is tough. Tarleton does a great job with the atmosphere – it’s a great college basketball atmosphere. They consider us their rivals so they’re not going to hold anything back. It is a tough place to play,” Johnson said.