Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - On a night filled with emotion, the New Mexico State women’s basketball team hosted the UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros on Senior Night during the team’s final home game of the 2016-17 season. The Aggies responded as they defeated the Vaqueros 87-67, on the final home contest for the team’s five seniors.
Reflecting on the the Aggies strong senior class this season, head coach Mark Trakh commented on the players’ importance saying, “They’ve meant the world to this program. They’ve all played so well and helped this program immensely. This group is 41-2 in their conference games and their dedication has turned this program around.”
At the start of the game, it looked as though we may need extra time to settle things if the even play kept up as each team traded baskets and could not gain an edge. Numerous fouls on each end of the court also forced each team to finish off the first quarter more conservatively as the first 10 minutes wrapped up with the game tied, 18-18.
The momentum began to shift in the Aggies favor at the start of the second quarter. The team went on a 16-4 run to grow their first double-digit lead of the game. This play was led by senior Moriah Mack who had 12 points, followed by Brooke Salas with 10 points and nine rebounds.
At the end of the first half, NM State led UTRGV, 39-30. This lead for the Aggies came from leading in rebounds (26-20) and posting a better percentage from the field (39.4-30.0), as the remaining stats remained close between the two squads.
Coming out of the halftime break, NM State continued to pile on. Most notably, the team found their rhythm from downtown as back-to-back-to-back three-pointers to open the quarter forced an early timeout by the Vaqueros. The stoppage in play did not seem to help as the Aggies lead continued to grow. Zaire Williams went 4-5 from long range which put the juniors point total up to 18 after three quarters. The best shooting quarter for the team expanded their lead to 66-48 as they head into the final quarter.
The opponent scrambled for answers to cut into NM State’s lead, but the veteran Aggie squad eliminated that possibility early and often in the fourth. The team marched on to a decisive 87-67 win over WAC foe, UTRGV, redeeming the team’s previous home game which saw the team fall to the Vaqueros to end the 2015-16 regular season.
The high octane offense saw five Aggies finish in double digits as Brooke Salas and Zaire Williams led the scoring with 18 points each, followed by Tamera William with 15, while Moriah Mack and Brianna Freeman each had 14.
The five seniors – Tyler Ellis, Brianna Freeman, Moriah Mack, Brandee Walton and Tamera William – won the first home game of their Aggie careers, 98-68, against Boise State on Nov. 14, 2013. This group now leaves just the way they came in, with a victory. The win is the 12th straight for the team as NM State now sits at 19-6 overall and 11-0 in WAC play.
New Mexico State will now hit the road to finish off their three remaining regular season games. The team will travel to take on Utah Valley on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. MT.