Aggie Women's Basketball Splits Exhibition Games On Day One of Canada Trip

Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.

ABBOTSFORD/BURNABY, B.C., CANADA - The New Mexico State women's basketball team opened up its first of three exhibition games in British Columbia, Canada with a 70-55 victory over the University College of Fraser Valley Cascades Saturday afternoon in the Envision Athletic Center.

Head coach Darin Spence was impressed with how his team played in its first action of the exhibition tour and felt that his seniors came out and led the team to the victory.

"We played very well this afternoon considering it's only September 1st," Spence said. "We started off a little nervous early in the game, but we came out in the second half and played solid defense. UCFV is a solid team; they were very scrappy and shot the ball well."

The Aggies were able to share the playing time against the Cascades, as Spence is playing with different lineups to what works best for his team. All four freshmen saw the court in the first game.

"Everybody contributed in the win and we were able to score 70 points in early September which is a good sign for things to come," Spence said.

UCFV has been one of Canada's top collegiate teams throughout its program's 21-year history. The Cascades finished in third place in the Canadian Colleges Athletics Association Championship last season and are 88-7 under head coach Al Tuchscherer, so the Aggies defeated one of Canada's best in its first competition of the year.

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New Mexico State's defense was able to force 23 turnovers, but it was not enough as the Aggies women's basketball team fell, 76-63, to defending Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Champion Simon Fraser at the New West Gym late Saturday evening. It was the Aggies second game of its three-game exhibition tour in the Vancouver, British Columbia area.

NMSU is now 1-1 in its preseason tour in Canada after defeating the University College of the Fraser Valley, 70-55, earlier Saturday afternoon.

Senior forward Sherell Neal led all Aggies in scoring with 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting and she pulled down five rebounds, dished out two assists and had two steals on the evening.

Head coach Darin Spence felt that his team was mentally fatigued in its second game Saturday, but felt that the Aggies could pull a lot out of the loss.

"We fought hard tonight and were able to force 23 turnovers," Spence said. "We were pretty tired, but we were still able to out rebound them and we came here not worried about wins and losses, but to learn more about ourselves as a team."

Junior transfer Brittany Henderson, sophomore Tyshae Walton and freshman Madison Spence all impressed Spence with their play Saturday evening. Henderson led all Aggies with eight rebounds to go along with her eight points. Walton went 4-of-8 from the field to score eight points and Spence added 10 points of her own while she hit two 3-pointers.

"Brittany came in for us and played really well," Spence said. "Tyshae did some good things out there on the court and Madison was able to knock down some open shots."

The Clan jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter behind guard Lani Gibbons. After sophomore guard Hannah Spanich hit a 3-pointer to cut SFU's early lead to 11-7, Gibbons hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Clan up 17-9.

NMSU cut the lead to five late in the quarter before Gibbons hit her third three of the opening period, which ended with SFU leading 25-17. Gibbons scored 16 of the Clan's 25 points in the quarter on 5-of-5 shooting.

Simon Fraser began to pull away in the second quarter thanks to a 12-7 run, as the Aggies were struggling shooting the ball offensively.

New Mexico State's defense then began to shut down the Clan towards the end of the quarter, which gave the Aggies momentum offensively and NMSU outscored the Clan 8-1 to end the half down by eight, 40-32.

The Clan opened the third quarter with a 9-1 run, pushing its lead to 49-33. Then after a Spanich offensive rebound, she found a wide-open Spence behind the arc for the three. Spence added another three and senior Anikia Jawara added a three point play to get the game back to nine, 51-42 SFU.

Both teams slumped offensively towards the end of the third. Gibbons was able to add yet another three and the Clan took a 64-52 lead into the final quarter.

The pace of the game slowed down measurably in the fourth quarter and not in the favor of the Aggies who just could not get clicking on all cylinders offensively. The Clan pulled away for the 76-63 victory.

Gibson finished with 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and she added 10 rebounds. She hit all four of her 3-points to lead SFU to the victory.

New Mexico State returns to the hardwood tomorrow for its final game of its exhibition tour in Canada. NMSU and Trinity Western University meet Sunday evening at 8:00 p.m. in Langley, British Columbia before the Aggies head back home to Las Cruces Monday morning.

Fans can listen to the game live through the web by logging onto www.gospartans.ca and clicking on the broadcast link at the top right of the screen.