. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A lethal combination of turnovers and missed shots combined to a close game at the half into a 14-point loss for the Lady Bulldog basketball team Friday in their District 4-AAAAA opener in Lovington.

The Artesia girls matched Lovington point for point in the opening quarter of play Friday and, despite posting just four points in the second, were down by only eight, 23-15, at the half. But while the Lady Wildcats picked up the pace offensively – albeit only slightly – in the final two quarters of play, the Lady ‘Dogs could manage just nine points in each period to fall by a final of 47-33.

Down 4-0 in the early goings of the contest, Laci Taylor posted a trey to spark Artesia offensively, and a layup and two from the free-throw line by Gracie Puentes, along with a shot off the glass from Paityn Houghtaling, gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead, 7-6, with around two minutes to go in the first.

After a longball from Lovington’s Azaria Stewart, Taylor hit a long two to return the lead to Artesia, 11-9. But a late bucket from Iris Diaz reinstated the deadlock going into the second, 11-11.

Diaz opened that quarter with three points, and Alexis Borrunda added a trey and a jumper to give Lovington eight unanswered points and a 19-11 lead.

Shots in the paint from Kali Crandall and Houghtaling were able to keep the Lady ‘Dogs within eight at the break, 23-15. But a barrage of treys from Borrunda, Stewart and Kamryn Cunningham saw the Lady ‘Cats quickly bump their lead to double digits in the early goings of the third, 32-17, and while Puentes, Gracie Tesillo and Elisa Cardenas posted buckets in the latter half of the quarter, Artesia remained down by 12 heading into the fourth, 36-24.

A 7-2 run by Lovington to start gave the ‘Cats a 43-26 lead and made a comeback a tall order for Artesia. Riggs notched a three from the top of the key, Crandall an offensive putback, and Puentes one off the glass in the final moments, but Lovington ultimately cruised through the quarter to the 47-33 win.

Puentes finished with eight points for Artesia, Houghtaling six, and Taylor five, while Borrunda led all scorers with 15.

The Lady ‘Dogs drop to 12-7 on the season, 0-1 in district play, with the loss but will look to turn things around this week on their home court as they host Roswell High at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and Goddard Friday.