Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State women’s basketball squared off with the Seattle U. Redhawks on Thursday night at the Pan American Center. Each team entered undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play and held unblemished records in 2017, but after a hectic 45 minutes of play, NM State left on top, 73-69.
NM State opened up winning the tip and scoring the first basket, as the team led 10-5 over the first four minutes. However, Seattle U battled back behind 11 points from their season leading scorer, Alexis Montgomery (16.2 PPG). Strong play in the paint and a perfect six-for-six from the free-throw line allowed the Redhawks to end the first quarter ahead of the Aggies, 21-18.
As the second quarter opened, New Mexico State’s sophomore guard Brooke Salas took over early, putting up 10 of the team’s first 12 points. Led by Salas, the Aggies went on a 19-3 run. The opponent lived at the three-point line in the second quarter, scoring all 15 of their points from downtown. As the first half came to a close, NM State was ahead of Seattle U, 43-36.
Throughout the first two quarters, the Aggies forced more turnovers than the Redhawks (9-3) which helped as they built a lead from points off of those turnovers (15-4). Heading to the locker room, Aggie play was led by Salas who put up 17 points and senior Moriah Mack with 11.
Neither team was able to take over in the third quarter, as NM State was able to answer each basket Seattle U had made. As each team looked to gain an advantage, either from the field or at the line, they never let up as the third quarter ended with the Aggies on top, 59-55.
The fourth quarter was the worst shooting period for each team and saw the lowest combined scoring total in regulation (14 points). With 35 seconds left in the game, the Aggies only led by one as Redhawk guard, Kamira Sanders went to the line, looking to give the opposition the lead. Sanders only hit one free throw and the remaining time on the clock ran off as the game went to overtime at 64-64.
Each team looked to gut it out to remain perfect in 2017 throughout the five minute overtime period. The opponent was able to grab a 69-68 lead with only 1:18 left in the game. Brooke Salas then hit two free throws to put the Aggies back on top, as the team looked to play strong defense to close it out. Moriah Mack provided that defense as the guard forced a loose ball around midcourt and was able to pull off the biggest steal of the game and bury the two following free throws as NM State walked away the victor, 73-69.
Aggie play was led by Brooke Salas who dropped a double-double with a career-high 26 points and 12 rebounds, as well as Moriah Mack who also put up a career-high 26 points and a team-leading five assists.
The win puts the team at 14-6 overall and a conference leading 6-0 in WAC play. NM State will look to carry the momentum on to Saturday, Jan. 28 when they square off with Utah Valley (6-14, 1-4), at 2 p.m. MT in the Pan American Center.