Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
PHOENIX, AZ - New Mexico State women’s basketball squared off with conference rival, Grand Canyon University on Thursday night in Phoenix, Ariz at GCU Arena. A strong performance on both ends from the Aggies saw the team defeat the Lopes, 81-65.
At the opening of the game, GCU won the tip and each team traded baskets early as the score sat at 4-4, but that was the last tie fans would see. The Aggies then took over and went on a 10-0 run to put the team ahead 14-4, only 6:30 into the game. The intensity was sustained to close out the quarter as Tamera William forced five steals and Brooke Salas added two blocks as the team scored seven points off those turnovers. As the first 10 minutes of play closed out, the Aggies led the Lopes, 20-8.
Coming off a basket to end the opening quarter, GCU started the second on an 11-0 which cut down the Aggies lead to 20-17. A basket from Moriah Mack and a three-pointer off of a turnover from Tamera William ended that run and slowed down the Lopes to hold the lead and the first half ended with NM State on top, 37-29.
Salas led the way with 15 points, followed by William with nine. Tyler Ellis led on the boards with five rebounds as the teams were tied with 16 apiece. Moriah Mack also added three steals to add to the turnover lead for the team (9-7). NM State separated themselves from the opponent down low as they dominated with points in the paint (14-4).
The second half opened with the Aggies allowing the Lopes to go on an 8-2, bringing the score to 41-37 in favor of NM State. Tough baskets and quality free throw shooting highlighted the next two minutes, until GCU guard, Brie Mobley, put in a lay-up on the fast break to make the score the closest it has been since the opening tip, 52-50.
At that point of the game, head coach Mark Trakh called a timeout to slow down the opposition. The call worked as Tonishia Childress came immediately out of the break, drove the lane for a basket and Moriah Mack followed that up with a mid-range jumper off of a turnover. The aggressive play allowed the Aggies to control the momentum and close out the third quarter on top, 62-55, which was led by Mack who put up nine points in the quarter.
The final quarter of the game saw NM State force GCU in to the bonus with 5:00 remaining which allowed the team to dictate play and capitalize on free throws (11-12) which helped the team hold the lead and win, 81-65.
At the end of the game, scoring was led by Brooke Salas who put up a career-high 23 points, followed by Moriah Mack with 18, Tamera William had 17 and Brianna Freeman put up 13. The team led with points in the paint (36-20), points off of turnovers (17-10) and second chance points (9-4).
The victory puts NM State at 11-6 overall and 3-0 in WAC play as conference opponent GCU moves to 9-6 and 1-1 in conference match ups. New Mexico State will remain on the road as they travel to Bakersfield, Calif. to take on CSU Bakersfield, Saturday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. MT.