Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State women’s basketball finished off the first half of their 2017 conference schedule against the Utah Valley Wolverines on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies played strong defense from start to finish, in a game fueled by over 100 young Aggie fans in attendance that were a part of the morning kid’s clinic hosted by the coaches and players.
After guiding the Aggies to their eighth straight win, head coach Mark Trakh commented on the game saying, “We spread the ball around well against the zone defense and came up with big shots to win today.”
The game opened up slow on the offensive end throughout the first half, as each team’s defense made scoring tough. In the first quarter, NM State forced 10 turnovers and Utah Valley forced six as each team shots under 35 percent from the field. After forcing four steals and adding three blocks, the quarter ended tied at seven.
Throughout the second quarter, the scoring totals from each team improved, but the defensive play from each squad kept the game close. NM State was able to end the half ahead, 22-21.
The one point lead was built off of strong play in the paint, outscoring the opponent 10-2 and seeing strong production off the bench leading the Wolverines, 10-1. Heading to the locker room, the Aggies saw nine players contribute to the scoring, led by Gia Pack with five points.
New Mexico State came out with a different mindset in the second half, looking to run things around. The Aggie defense ran press throughout the quarter, forcing the Wolverines to make mistakes, which the team capitalized on.
Brooke Salas, in particular, took over in the third quarter as she put up 14 points in ten minutes, including nine of the Aggies final 11. The play from the sophomore guard allowed the Aggies to finish the quarter on an 11-2 run and head into the final quarter ahead, 48-36.
Much like the first three quarters, the fourth was all about defense as the Aggies held the Wolverines scoreless until the 6:58 mark. Aside from strong defense, the major point of the fourth quarter came when senior Moriah Mack knocked down her fifth basket of the game. This play late in the fourth made Mack the 22nd player in NM State history to score 1,000 career points, joining fellow teammate Brianna Freeman who accomplished the feat on Jan. 7 against Chicago State.
The team was able to close out the game on top of Utah Valley, 63-46. The victory saw the Aggies outscore the Wolverines with points in the paint (28-16), points off of turnovers (15-6), second chance points (18-11) and points off the bench (14-6).
This victory moves New Mexico State to 15-6 overall and a conference best, 7-0 in WAC play. The team’s next contest will see them travel to take on Chicago State on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. MT. This will be the second time the two teams have squared off this season, as the Aggies brought home a 100-63 victory earlier in the month.