Aggies Face Western New Mexico In Final Exhibition Tonight

Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State women's basketball team hosts Western New Mexico Monday, Nov. 5, in its final exhibition tune-up before opening up the regular season on the road Nov. 9 at UC Irvine.

Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. in the Pan American Center and live stats of the game are available on the web at www.nmstatesports.com.

NMSU defeated New Mexico Highlands Thursday, Nov. 1, 93-57, in its first exhibition game. 12 Aggies scored in the contest and the Aggie defense forced 21 turnovers and held NMSU to just 30.8 percent shooting from the field.

Last season the Aggies defeated the Mustangs, 81-55 in its final preseason exhibition game. WNMU was 8-16 and 8-11 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference a year ago.

After Monday's exhibition, NMSU heads out to Irvine, Calif., to open its 35th season of women's basketball on the road for second consecutive season.

The Match Up

The Aggies and the Mustangs have met 10 times in the regular season, with NMSU winning every game and all but one in Las Cruces. The last time the two teams met in the regular season was on Nov. 30, 2004, when the Aggies won 74-59 in Las Cruces. New Mexico State has outscored Western New Mexico by 468 points in its 10 victories.

Scouting the Mustangs

WNMU went 8-16 a year ago under head coach Brent Hansen, who is entering his third season as the Mustangs boss. Gone from last years team are all-conference players Tannesia Manley (11.1 ppg) and Crystal Smith (11.4 ppg). Sophomore guard Ashley Vigil returns after picking up honorable mention All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference honors in her freshman season. She made 37.1 percent of her 3-pointers and finished sixth in the RMAC in assists with 3.13 dimes per game.

Last Year versus WNMU

Senior forward Sherell Neal led all five Aggies who scored in double-figures with 16 points and 10 rebounds as the New Mexico State women's basketball team defeated New Mexico Highlands, 97-53, in its first exhibition game of the season Thursday night at the Pan American Center.

Senior forward Anikia Jawara came up one rebound shy of a double-double of her own. She finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and tied for a game-high four assists while classmate Irma Kmitaite-Smith put in 12 of her own thanks to 5-of-7 shooting from the field with two 3-pointers.

Head coach Darin Spence was pleased with his team's performance in its first action on the year.

"This team has all the components to be really good," Spence said. "We got a lot out of our early press tonight that led to a lot of offense. For what we're going to be facing this year, we have to buy into what we have and this team has."

New Mexico State forced 21 turnovers and out-rebounded the Cowgirls, 66-31. The Aggies got 48 points off their bench, where 12 of the 15 players that played all had points.

Neal's 16 points came in just 20 minutes of action on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. She added on 3-pointer to go along with her game-high 10 rebounds.

Freshmen Madison Spence and Danisha Corbett played well in the exhibition. Spence scored 15 points to go along with three assists and two steals while Corbett scored her 13 points in 16 minutes and she tied for the game-high with four steals.

New Mexico Highlands was led by sophomore forward Pasha Cornish with her 10 points and five rebounds, but the Aggie defense held the Cowgirls to just 30.8 percent shooting from the field.

Aggies Open Up Season with a Bang

Senior forward Sherell Neal led all five Aggies who scored in double-figures with 16 points and 10 rebounds as the New Mexico State women's basketball team defeated New Mexico Highlands, 97-53, in its first exhibition game of the season Thursday night at the Pan American Center.

Senior forward Anikia Jawara came up one rebound shy of a double-double of her own. She finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and tied for a game-high four assists while classmate Irma Kmitaite-Smith put in 12 of her own thanks to 5-of-7 shooting from the field with two 3-pointers.

Head coach Darin Spence was pleased with his team's performance in its first action on the year.

"This team has all the components to be really good," Spence said. "We got a lot out of our early press tonight that led to a lot of offense. For what we're going to be facing this year, we have to buy into what we have and this team has."

New Mexico State forced 21 turnovers and out-rebounded the Cowgirls, 66-31. The Aggies got 48 points off their bench, where 12 of the 15 players that played all had points.

Neal's 16 points came in just 20 minutes of action on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. She added on 3-pointer to go along with her game-high 10 rebounds.

Freshmen Madison Spence and Danisha Corbett played well in the exhibition. Spence scored 15 points to go along with three assists and two steals while Corbett scored her 13 points in 16 minutes and she tied for the game-high with four steals.

New Mexico Highlands was led by sophomore forward Pasha Cornish with her 10 points and five rebounds, but the Aggie defense held the Cowgirls to just 30.8 percent shooting from the field.

Quick Facts from the Aggies First Exhibition Game

The Aggies shot 44.7 percent from the field... Scored 40 points in the paint... had 25 points off of the 21 turnovers they forced... had 22 second chance points and 12 fast break points... Got 48 points from players off the bench... out-rebounded Highlands by 35... Had 19 assists and made four 3-pointers...

Freshman Impressive against New Mexico Highlands

Freshman Madison Spence and Danisha Corbett played well in the Aggies exhibition game against New Mexico Highlands. Spence, who started at point guard, scored 15 points off of 5-of-8 shooting from the field in 20 minutes on the floor. She made one 3-pointer and dished out three assists. Corbett played only 16 minutes, but scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting and had four steals.

Neal Looks for Repeated Success in Senior Season

Senior forward Sherell Neal is looking to build on her successful 2006-07 season this year. Neal became the schools first All-WAC selection after her junior year in which she finished second in the conference in scoring (15.7 ppg) and first in rebounding (10.8). She also finished 12th in the nation in rebounding and added 20 double-doubles on the year. There were only two games in which Neal did not score in double figures as a junior.

Against NMHU on Nov. 1, Neal put together a modest double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds in just 20 minutes on the court. She was 7-of-10 from the field and added an assist and one steal.

Neal was named to the 2007-08 preseason All-WAC first team and the Aggies are banking on her to have another great season in her final year in the Crimson and White. She enters the season just 15 points shy of becoming the school's 16th 1,000 point scorer and she currently ranks fourth in blocked shots and eighth in rebounding on the Aggie career record list. The Phoenix, Ariz. native gets it done in the classroom as well, as she has been named to the academic all-conference teams in each of the last two seasons.

Crimson and White Recap

On Friday, Oct. 26 the NMSU basketball teams held their annual Crimson and White scrimmages at the Pan American Center. The women's team played a 22-minute running clock scrimmage where the White team edged the Crimson squad, 19-18, after junior guard Tyshae Walton hit an 18-foot jumper to break a 17-17 tie. Walton had a team-high five points while sophomore guard Hannah Spanich and junior center Danielle Stevens both contributed four points for the White crew.

Senior guard Irma Kmitaite-Smith and junior guard/forward Brittany Henderson both recorded five points for the Crimson team.

Denning Returns to the Aggies Front Court

Senior forward Carla Denning has been waiting a long time to get back on the court after she suffered a season-ending injury midway through the 2006-07 season. Head coach Darin Spence really likes the energy and leadership that Denning brings to the team and in the Aggies Crimson and White Scrimmage last Friday, Denning let her play do the action. In the brief scrimmage (22-minute running clock), Denning pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and scored four points. In 16 games last season, Denning averaged two points and four rebounds per game. In NMSU's first exhibition game last Thursday, Denning pulled down six rebounds (four on the offensive glass) and scored four points.

Canadian Exhibition Tour

New Mexico State got a head start on the season, as NMSU embarked on a foreign exhibition tour in Vancouver, British Columbia at the start of the school year. The Aggies were allotted 10 days of practice prior to their three games they played against some of Canada's top collegiate teams, Sept. 1-2.

The Aggies went 2-1 in their exhibition tour, defeating the University College of Fraser Valley, who took the bronze medal in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championships last season, and Trinity Western University. NMSU's only loss came to Simon Fraser who is Canada's reining national champion.

Spence really believes that the early start on the year helps his team tremendously and feels that it gave his players the motivation to come out and get over the hump and win the schools first ever WAC Championship and fifth conference title in program history.

"Playing up in Canada has already given us a chance to see how our lineups will fit together with our depth and more importantly it showed our team that we have a really good opportunity to have a great season," Spence said.

Quick Team Notes

The Aggies return four starters from last years team (Monique Bribiescas, Anikia Jawara, Sherell Neal and Tyshae Walton) and have five seniors on the squad (Bribiescas, Carla Denning, Jawara, Irma Kmitaite-Smith and Neal)... NMSU's 32.2 three-point field goal percentage in 2006-07 was the best in the WAC... New Mexico State held opponents to the second lowest field goal percentage (37.4 percent) in the conference a year ago... The Aggies have advanced to the finals of the WAC Tournament in each of the past two seasons as a No. 7 seed, becoming the first seventh-seed to do so in the history of the conference tournament...

Aggies Add Seven Newcomers to 2007-08 Squad

Junior college transfers, Brittany and Tiffany Henderson (Pierce Junior College) and Danielle Stevens (Independence Junior College) along with true-freshman Danisha Corbett, Brittany Palmer, Erica Sanchez and Madison Spence are all new to the Aggies squad this year. Spence (No. 23 overall prospect) and Corbett (No. 67 prospect) were two of the highest rated recruits in the country according to Michael T. White All-Star Girls Report and the two could have big impacts for the Aggies this season. The Henderson sisters along with Stevens will give the Aggies a boost inside and Palmer will help NMSU's backcourt. Sanchez, who was high school teammates with Palmer, has a big upside to her because of her size that allows her to play both out on the wing and inside in the paint.

Successful Offseason

With the exception of four players on the roster, every other Aggie was in Las Cruces attending school and working out over the summer in preparation for the upcoming season. The Lady Aggies had summer weight room workouts, played an abundance of pick-up games and started bonding as a team. This will pay off for NMSU down the road as the Aggies are looking to win the Western Athletic Conference Championship after falling in the title game of the conference tournament in the last two seasons.