Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
EDINBURG, TX - The New Mexico State women’s basketball team faced off against the UTRGV Vaqueros in Edinburg, Texas to close out the regular season on Saturday night. The season finale saw NM State achieve two historical feats in the program’s history.
With a 64-46 win on Saturday, the Aggies went undefeated in Western Athletic Conference play (14-0) for the first time in the team’s history. NM State also won their 15th straight game for the second season in a row, which ties the program record set by Joe McKeown and the Aggies back in 1987-88.
After the historic victory for the team, head coach Mark Trakh said, “This is a huge accomplishment and the credit really goes to these great players. They showed such great dedication and perseverance to achieve such a feat. I’m just so happy for them and what this program has been able to achieve.”
As the game opened, NM State got out to an early lead with an 8-2 run. After a timeout on the floor midway through the first quarter, the opponent brought the game closer. As each team traded baskets the quarter ended with the Aggies ahead 17-14. The team’s lead was built off of solid play in the paint, outscoring the Vaqueros 10-6.
The Aggies carried their lead halfway through the second quarter, until the team went into the bonus with 4:58 remaining. The foul trouble forced NM State to play more conservatively on defense and the opponent’s leading scorer Shawnte’ Goff (15.5 PPG) took advantage.
Since the Aggies 11-9 lead towards the end of the first quarter, Goff proceeded to score the next 13 points for the opponent as the game was tied at 24 with 3:36 remaining. After a basket from Aggie guard Gia Pack, the Vaqueros then hit a three-pointer to take their first lead of the game, 27-26. Solid defensive pressure and efficient shooting from the team allowed them to regain the lead as the half closed out with NM State ahead, 34-30.
Heading to the locker rooms, the Aggies scoring was led by Brooke Salas with 10 points and Moriah Mack who added nine. The team also took advantage down low as they outrebounded (21-12) and outscored the opponent in the paint (16-12) to maintain their lead through 20 minutes.
In the third quarter, NM State used stifling defense to build a large lead. The Aggie held the Vaqueros scoreless until the 23 second mark of the quarter. This scoring drought for the opponent allowed the team to go on a 17-0 run as the quarter closed with their lead at 51-32. Four of the team’s six field goals came from three-point range, helping the team expand their lead.
The final quarter of the game saw each team trade baskets, and fouls, as the quarter was back and forth on the scoreboard. The Aggies and the Vaqueros looked to close their season out strong as the remaining quarter saw aggressive play from both sides, as NM State held onto their lead and walked away with a 64-46 win.
Scoring for the team saw three Aggies finish in double digits led by Moriah Mack with 14 points, followed by Gia Pack and Brooke Salas as they each 12. Salas also added 11 rebounds for her team-leading sixth double-double of the year.
Team play saw the Aggies put up more points in the paint (24-18), off of turnovers (17-10), on second chances (8-4) and off the bench (26-19). The team also won the battle down low, out-rebounding the Vaqueros 41-27 as the team took home the win.
The victory in the season finale gave NM State a 2016-17 regular season record of 22-6 and 14-0 in WAC play. With the regular season coming to a close, NM State now turns their focus to the WAC Tournament as their first match up will come on Friday, March 10 in the semi-finals versus the winner of the UTRGV versus UMKC game on Wednesday.