MORRISTOWN, Tenn. -- Zachariya Esmon came off the bench and nailed five 3-pointers in the first half and finished the game with six triples and 23 points as the 18th-ranked Walters State Lady Senators ran past Southwest Tennessee 78-53 Friday evening at Z Buda Gymnasium.
Walters State remains in first place in the regional standings as they improve to 9-0 and 17-4 overall. Southwest had their five-game winning streak come to an end as they fall to 9-7, 5-4 in the league.
Hot shooting from long range helped the Lady Senators to the win as they were 12-of-29 from deep (41%) and Walters State used their deep bench to the upmost as the reserves out-scored their counterparts 39-4 in the game.
"Esmon was a big, big factor for us and that was good because our energy level just wasn't very good the entire night. I don't know what it was but we didn't do what we needed to do. Our kids were there but we weren't really doing things," Walters State head coach Dave Kragel said. "It was like we were walking in mud all night long. How you can be number one in the league and you are playing a big rival and not come hard was a mystery."
In addition to Esmon's stellar play, Kragel said ball control was a key factor in the victory on a night his team was lethargic overall. "The big thing was at half time, we had 10 turnovers and we only had three in the second half".
The game was close in the early minutes as the Lady Saluqis led 6-4 before Esmon and Derrinesha Jackson had back-to-back shots from deep. Southwest Tennessee was able to stay in the game and tied the contest at 17-17 on a basket by Dyrianda Johnson. That was where things stood at the end of the first period.
Jayma Rogers started the second period with a triple and a few minutes later, Esmon was true from behind the arc once more to give Walters State a 29-24 advantage. She hit another one to give the Lady Senators a 34-28 advantage and then the home team closed the half on a 7-0 run. Esmon had her only two-pointer of the first half, Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu hit two free throws, and Esmon capped the scoring with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Lady Senators up by 11 at the half, 41-30.
The lead quickly ballooned to 14 points when Rogers hit a two-pointer and then drained a long-range shot. Southwest played a little better to begin the third period as they got their deficit to 10 points at 48-38 on a bucket by Nyla Murray. But just as was the case to end the second period, the Lady Senators squashed any chance of a comeback by going on a big run late. Jalayah Manning scored four points in a row to give Walters State a 55-41 lead headed to the fourth period.
In the final 10 minutes of play, Caleah Shannon was one of the stars as she scored six points in a row and got hot from 3-point land by hitting three in a row and finished a perfect 5-for-5 from deep as Walters State cruised to the 78-53 victory.
In addition to Esmon's 23 points, Rogers netted 19 points. Brianna Dixon pulled down 10 rebounds for Walters State. Tia Bland had a double-double for the Lady Saluqis as she scored 16 points and nabbed 11 rebounds. Takya Bennett had 12 points for Southwest.
The Lady Senators host Dyersburg State Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.