Tarleton State point guard Katie Crawford had less than seven seconds to drive the length of the basketball court and save the day.
After Eastern New Mexico’s Heather Brown drained an ice cold jumper to put the Zias up 62-61, Crawford got the inbounds pass and took off — weaving through defenders all the way down the left side of the lane for the game-winning layup.
“I really don’t know how I made it down (court) that fast,” Crawford said.
Head coach Ronnie Hearne told the TexAnns to go straight into transition if the Zias retook the lead, Crawford said, thinking that Eastern New Mexico would be caught off guard.
The strategy worked, earning the TexAnns their tenth win of the season, 63-62.
“I got the ball and took off,” Crawford said. When no defender cut her off, she went straight to the hoop.
Crawford led the TexAnns with 20 points in the contest. Krystal Cole had 15 points. Cole and Brittnie Haley, who sank a jumper to give Tarleton a one-point lead with 25 seconds left, each had six rebounds.
Tarleton was in control of the contest early, as one of Crawford’s four 3-pointers gave the TexAnns a 10-6 lead nine minutes into the game. Tara Lisle then scored two straight baskets, making it 14-6.
Kendal Reddell and Crawford hit 3-pointers to stretch the TexAnn lead to 22-10, and Cole had a three-point play to make the lead 15.
Another three-point play by D’Anna Dingler gave the TexAnns their biggest lead of the game, 32-16, with 1:30 left in the half.
But the Zias closed the half with a six-point run, and had a layup to start the second. They then went on a 13-4 run, taking a one-point lead with 15:20 left on jumper from Brown.
The lead see-sawed back and forth, but Eastern New Mexico appeared to keep control, going up four, 60-56, with three minutes left.
But Crawford hit a deep 3-pointer that brought the home crowd to their feet and cut the deficit down to one, 60-59. Haley missed a pair of free throws, but after the TexAnns forced the Zias into a shot clock violation, she nailed the jumper that gave Tarleton their first lead in 11 minutes.
Crawford said Hearne had told the team the game would be a turning point for their season, as they had been struggling in conference play.
“I think that this win is really going to help us turn it around and contend for conference,” she said.