NMSU Women's Basketball Wins Thriller At UTRVG

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

EDINBURG, TX - New Mexico State women’s basketball traveled to the Lone Star State to take on Western Athletic Conference foe UT Rio Grande Valley on Saturday evening at the UTRGV Fieldhouse. A deep three from Zaire Williams tied the contest up with 12 seconds left in regulation and the guard then knocked down two free throws in the waning seconds of overtime to take down UTRGV, 79-77.

Despite winning the opening tip and pressuring UTRGV (11-11, 1-6 WAC), the NM State (12-9, 6-1 WAC) squad went down early due to three turnovers and a quick foul. However, the Aggies quickly found their stride for an 8-0 run to take their first lead of the contest, 8-3, at the 4:58 mark.

Following a stoppage in play, the Vaqueros began to close the deficit created by the Aggies. NM State would not allow UTRGV to grab the lead, however, thanks in part to Monique Mills knocking down her first three shots to go along with three steals off the bench. At the end of the first quarter, the teams were just as they had begun, all tied up, and the scoreboard read 17-17.

Just 16 seconds into the second quarter, the Vaqueros knocked down a three-pointer to regain the lead. The Aggies did not falter despite the quick score as NM State saw three players hit contested shots to hold a 23-21 advantage with 4:40 remaining in the first half.

The Aggie lead would hold at the end of the second quarter with the team heading to the locker room ahead of the Vaqueros 79-77. The teams were even across the board in points off turnovers (14-14), points in the paint (10-10) and second-chance points (2-2) through 20 minutes of play.

Gia Pack led the scoring for NM State with 11 points, followed by Tonishia Childress with 8 and M. Mills added seven from the bench to give the Aggies the three-point advantage.

UT Rio Grande Valley opened the third quarter with a basket and free throw to put the Aggies behind 31-30 just 1:11 in. Childress was able to answer just 14 seconds later with a three to take back the lead for NM State. This three-pointer also tied a single-game career high in triples made for the guard with three

The teams jostled back-and-forth for the lead to finish the quarter and then Zaire Williams showed a glimpse of what was to come knocking down a basket and-one with three seconds left to give NM State a 50-47 lead entering the fourth.

A 6-0 run by the Vaqueros erased the NM State lead and forced the Aggies to call a timeout with 3:59 remaining down 60-56. The Crimson & White managed to trade baskets with UTRGV but still trailed by three in the final minute.

Head coach Brooke Atkinson used a full timeout to move the ball past half court and as Williams got the ball at the top of the arc, the guard took a step back knocked down a deep three to tie the game up at 67 and send it to overtime.

Extra time opened with a barrage of scoring from Pack who knocked down a three to give NM State the lead. The sophomore then went on to score the team’s first 10 points before the Vaqueros called a timeout trailing 77-75 with just 36 seconds on the clock.

Laura Van Tillburg proceeded to knock down the tying basket in the paint for UTRGV and nine seconds remained on the clock. Just as the previous two frames had ended, the ball was in Williams’ hands. The senior drove the lane, drew a foul and knocked down both free throws in the closing second as NM State walked away with a 79-77 victory.

At night’s end, Pack led the Aggies in scoring with 29 points and on the glass with nine rebounds. Williams followed with a double-double of 17 points and a team-leading 11 assists. Childress also finished with double-digits, tying a career-high, with 11 points.

New Mexico State remains on the road for a pair of WAC contests when the team travels to Bakersfield, Calif. to take on CSU Bakersfield on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 8 p,m, MT. The Aggies then cross state lines for a battle with Grand Canyon on Saturday, Feb. 10. Tip off for that contest is slated for 2 p.m. MT.