Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State women’s basketball team squared off with rival New Mexico for the second installment of the Battle of I-25 on Wednesday night. A tight contest from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer saw the Aggies come out on top, 77-70.
After the game, Mark Trakh was asked about the team’s performance and said “We played well, both teams really laid it out on the floor, but it came down to defense. We played great defensively and limited their transition. I am really excited with how the team played and we came out on top.”
NM State sought retribution after dropping the first match-up to UNM earlier in the month. The Aggies played inspired basketball as they had an answer to every move the Lobos made. Excellent team play featured two Aggies putting up a double-double as Tamera William (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Brooke Salas (20 points, 10 rebounds) led the way.
The first quarter was much like the rest of the game as each team traded baskets and kept the score close. Six Aggies saw time in the first ten minutes and they each contributed at the basket and on the boards as the quarter closed out at 19-19.
As the first half progressed, each team did not let down and play was neck and neck. The teams were tied in points in the paint with 12 and off turnovers with five a piece, at the half. The largest run, 6-0, was by the Lobos and allowed them to grab a lead which they held until the end of the second quarter as they were up, 40-37. Unlike the opposition, the Aggies spread the ball out on the floor and went into the locker room with multiple baskets from six players.
As the teams emerged from the locker room, New Mexico came out flying and went up by eight points, their biggest lead of the game. This spurred a timeout by the Aggies as they looked to settle down and continue playing Aggie ball. The break worked as NM State began to smother the opposition defensively and a half-court buzzer beater by Tamera William brought the Aggies within one point, 57-56, heading into the fourth quarter. William and Salas each totaled seven points and four rebounds in the third to help the Aggies shrink the deficit.
The buzzer beater shifted momentum heavily in favor of the Aggies as they started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and a lay-up off of a turnover to go up, 61-57, one minute in. The Aggie defense saw the Lobo players getting tired and capitalized as they forced a quarter-high seven turnovers. The solid play allowed the Aggies to hold their lead over the final nine minutes of play and force the Lobos to foul at the end. The foul shots were no problem for the Aggies as they shot 16-19 throughout the game, which allowed them to prevail over Battle of I-25 rival UNM, 77-70.
When things were all said and done, the Aggies had William (23), Salas (20) and senior guard Moriah Mack (14) finish in double-digits and Zaire Williams added nine assists to her season total, bringing it up to 49, which is top-20 in the country.
NM State looks to capitalize on the energy from this game as they host a strong Pac-12 opponent in Arizona on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 1 p.m. MT, in the Pan American Center.