Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The two-time defending Western Athletic Conference Champion New Mexico State women's basketball team announced its 2016-17 schedule, featuring 13 home contests.
Head coach Mark Trakh's Aggies return three starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's 26-5 (school record for wins) team that captured their second-consecutive WAC regular season championship (13-1 league record), WAC Tournament title and NCAA Tournament appearance.
Coach Trakh brought in a few new faces on the bench this season as well. Joining the Aggies coaching staff are Jason Glover, Ashley Ford and Blanche Alverson. Earl Lewis was also named the director of basketball operations.
The 2016-17 slate features two non-conference tournaments before the New Year. The Aggies first travel to Honolulu to participate in the Bank of Hawaii Classic, Nov. 18-20. With six games in between tournaments the team then travels to Las Vegas, Nev., for the Play for Kay Shootout, Dec. 19-21.
When asked about the upcoming season, Coach Trakh said, “We are really looking forward to the season. We feel we have a very competitive team and have upgraded our schedule. We are in a very competitive tournament in Hawaii, as well as a great tournament in Las Vegas that includes Oregon State, Oklahoma State, and South Florida. We play UNM twice, UTEP at UTEP and Arizona at home. We are really excited to see how we can compete against some of these teams.”
The Aggies open the regular season at the Pan American Center on Nov. 11 against San Jose State. They then travel to Albuquerque to play New Mexico on Tuesday, Nov. 15, before heading to Hawaii. After returning, the Aggies host Pepperdine (Nov. 23), New Mexico Highlands (Nov. 25), UNM (Nov. 30) and Arizona (Dec. 4.).
After the four-game home stretch, the Aggies travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., to battle Northern Arizona on Dec. 11 and El Paso, Texas, to face off against UTEP on Dec. 15. Non-conference plays wraps up at home versus Western New Mexico on Saturday, Dec. 31.
Then, it's on to WAC play as the Aggies defend their conference championship, beginning at home on Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. as they host UMKC. Following the conference opener, the Aggies will host Chicago State on Saturday, Jan.7, at 2 p.m.
The Aggies then hit the road to play Grand Canyon University (Jan. 12) and CSU Bakersfield (Jan. 14). Following that, the Aggies head home to host Seattle U. (Jan. 26) and Utah Valley (Jan. 28).
The Aggies remaining three home contests feature match ups with CSU Bakersfield (Feb. 9), GCU (Feb. 27) and UT Rio Grande Valley (Feb. 18). The regular season wraps up with three road games against Utah Valley (Feb. 23), Seattle U. (Feb. 25) and UTRGV (March 4) before the WAC Tournament begins in Las Vegas, Nev., on March 8.
The Aggies welcome back WAC First-Team and All-Defensive team senior guard Moriah Mack of San Antonio, Texas. As a junior, she was a key component in the Aggies making the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row. She led all returning players in points per game (11.7) and assists (50). Of returning players, she also finished second in offensive rebounds (55) and steals (40).
Senior Brianna Freeman of Killeen, Texas finished last season as the team leader in blocks (41), defensive rebounds (119), total rebounds (166) and field-goals made (122). She finished second among returning players in points per game (9.7) and was recognized as a WAC All-Academic honoree. The end of the 2014-15 season saw her named the WAC Player of the Year and WAC Tournament MVP.
Brooke Salas, of Placentia, Calif., finished her freshman season as a member of the WAC All-Newcomer Team, WAC All-Tournament team and was a two-time WAC and College Sports Madness Player of the Week. She finished second on the team in blocks (20) and defensive rebounds (106).