Aggies Defeat Northern Iowa 72-63; Spence Notches 100th Victory As NM State Head Coach

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

Tabytha WamplerLAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State women's basketball head coach Darin Spence earned his 100th victory as the Aggie general when NM State defeated Northern Iowa 72-63 at the Pan American Center on Saturday night to clinch the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic Championship.

The Aggies used an early second-half run to take the lead and never relinquished it, leading by as many as 11 before UNI closed the gap to two at 62-60 with under four minutes remaining. NM State held the Panthers off as junior forward Tabytha Wampler scored six of her 14 points over the final 3:30 of the game.

Wampler posted her third double-double of the season and fifth of her career with a career-high 18 rebounds to go with her 14 tallies. Meanwhile, the senior guard tandem of Danisha Corbett and Jasmine Lowe each scored a game-high 17 points in the win.

Senior point guard Madison Spence did not dress for the second straight game Saturday as junior Kaitlyn Soto made her second start of the season. Spence is day-to-day but improving with another formal evaluation scheduled for Sunday. Sophomore guard Camila Rosen earned her first start of the season as the Aggies started four guards and a forward against UNI.

NM State shot 51 percent in the game and held UNI to just 38 percent from the field. The Aggies out-rebounded the Panthers 36-31 in the contest. Each team finished with 15 turnovers.

"Our kids really did a good job tonight," said head coach Darin Spence. "(UNI) was an NCAA tournament team and conference tournament champion last year, so there was a lot riding on that game. It's nice to get that win at home, that's for sure.

"(Wampler) came through again tonight. She is just a battler, she battles hard. She does everything we ask her to do for us. Our guards did a good job tonight but we need to show more composure sometimes on offense. We're learning and getting better."

NM State improves to 5-2 with the win. Northern Iowa drops to 3-2 on the season after the loss.

Corbett ignited the Aggies in the first half just as she did in the Classic opener against Alcorn State on Friday, scoring the opening points to give NM State a quick 2-0 lead. UNI scored eight straight points before Corbett halted the Panther rally with a three to make it 8-5 five minutes in.

The teams played even over the next four minutes before UNI started a big run at the 11-minute mark. UNI guard Katelin Oney dropped in two threes and backcourt mate Jacqui Kalin posted a trey to fuel an 11-2 run to extend the lead to 27-15, the Panthers' largest lead of the game. Midway through the half UNI was shooting 71 percent from long range on 5-of-7 shooting.

NM State immediately countered with an 8-2 run started by a basket from junior guard Kaitlyn Soto and capped by a bucket from Corbett to make it 27-21 UNI with five minutes left in the half. UNI increased the lead back to 10 with just over four minutes left in the first. But NM State strung together an 11-0 run over the next 1:40 to take the Aggies' first lead since the opening hoop at 32-31. The Panthers scored the final three points of the half to lead 34-32 at the break.

NM State ended the half shooting 48 percent from the floor while UNI averaged 41 percent from the floor. The Panthers edged the Aggies in rebounds 18-15. NM State forced nine UNI turnovers to go with four steals in the half. Corbett led all scorers with 13 points at the half. Lowe added nine while Wampler led NM State on the boards with seven.

Lowe sparked the Aggie offense in the second half with an early bucket to tie the game at 34-all and begin an early 9-2 run to take the lead 41-36 with 16:01 remaining. NM State put the pedal down and ran out to a 52-41 advantage on behalf of an 11-3 run for its largest lead of the game.

UNI cut the margin to five at 52-47 just inside 10 minutes but NM State built the lead back to 10 after a three and bucket from Lowe to make it 59-49 with 7:56 remaining. UNI would not go away as they put together a 9-0 run over the next four minutes to make it 61-58 Aggies with just over four minutes remaining.

Oney finished with a team-high 13 points for the Panthers while Kalin added 10. UNI forward Erin Brocka led the Panthers on the boards with seven.

NM State continues its six-game home stand at the Pan American Center with the first game of the Rio Grande Rivalry versus New Mexico to kick off December. The Aggies are 3-1 during the homecoming four games in. NM State battles the Lobos Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7:05 p.m. in the Pan American Center.