LAS CRUCES, NM – In the third consecutive doubleheader between men’s and women’s basketball at the Pan American Center, the NM State women’s basketball team (9-9, 4-2 WAC) played an exciting nail biter, losing to Utah Tech (12-5, 4-2 WAC), 67-65 on Saturday afternoons.
Utah Tech won the opening pick by shooting a three on their first possession to pass the ball straight to the Aggies. Tayelin Grays broke the seal with a putback after a Molly Kaiser Missed three times. After Crimson & White’s opening basket, the Trailblazers rallied to take a 7-4 lead with five minutes remaining in the opening stanza. Back-to-back paint dots from Taylor Donaldson and Shania Harper gave the Aggies a one-point lead (8-7), but the second-best scoring team in the WAC proved too much for NM State to go by by a point, leading 19-12 at the quarterbreak.
Playing against a Utah Tech team that employed a zone defense system, the Aggies unusually started three-pointers, attempting six in the first quarter but failing to convert any into points. A steadfast NM state defense from beyond the arc kept the Trailblazers at a 2-11 shot clip, well below their 33% shot from three in the season.
Utah Tech’s lead turned to nine within twenty seconds of the second quarter, however Tayelin Grays buried NM State’s first treble of the night and their fifth of the season to make it a six-point game (21-15) and start a 9-3 NM State run, making it a 24-21 game with 5:01 made to go in half. A pair of Trailblazers triples essentially nullified the Aggie run, but the Crimson & White defense turned it on late in the quarter, keeping Utah Tech scoreless the rest of the way and forcing a trio of turnovers.
Aggies shot 25%, 1-13 from deep in the first half while Utah Tech shot 40% overall and 26% from three-point range. NM State forced eight Trailblazer turnovers.
Sofia Inoussa put himself in the Trailblazer fast lane and scored a transition layup to open the second half, making it a one-ball play before Utah Tech took a twelve-point lead (39-27) with 6:07 in the third remained. Tayelin Grays and Molly Kaiser put NM State on its back and scored 15 of the last 19 Aggie points in the quarter. At 3:56 left, Kaiser caught it on the left wing, drove towards the baseline and pulled up in the middle, knocking it down and drawing a foul. Kaiser recorded her 500th career point and 10th point of the night with that basket.
51-46 down toward last frame, Sofia Inoussa collected her second treble made of the night to make it a two-point game (51-49). The next Aggie bucket comes a few possessions later after a series of offensive rebounds by the Aggies. Taylin Grays was able to run the lane on her defender and set a new career high with a pretty hook shot from the paint, a mark she broke with her 18th goal a few weeks ago in the Utah Valley.
With 6:11 in play, Silena Peterson pocketed a three from the top of the key after an Inoussa assist to make it a one-point game. Aggie’s defense took it to another level at halftime in the fourth quarter, diving for loose balls and denying everything. The Aggies outplayed the Trailblazers by three in the final frame
NM State went on a 5-0 run to the tie, with all five points coming from Kaiser. The guard scored on a layup and pulled the foul before scoring from the charity strip for a three-pointer. On Utah Tech’s next possession, Kaiser recorded a steal before pulling a foul when she drove to the rim. At the line, Kaiser went 2-2 to level the game at 65.
With six seconds left in the game, Utah Tech’s Breaunna Gillen smashed down a jump shot in the paint to put the Trailblazers two ahead. Up until their final chance, Peterson got a great view of a three for the Aggies, but the shot hit the iron and fell to the ground, allowing Utah Tech to escape with a road win.
· Molly Kaiser reached 500 career points in the third quarter and finished the night with 15 points while posting career highs in rebounds (8) and steals (5).
· Tayelin Grays she finished with 22 points, a new career high and her third double-digit performance of the season. She became only the second Aggie to surpass 20 points in a game this season.
· Grays finished with nine rebounds, just missing a board before a double-double.
· Moe Shida recorded a season-high in points (5) and made her second triple of the season.
· The Aggies hit a season-high 30 three-pointers that night but only managed five of them.
This is the 13thth Game this season that was decided in single digits for the Aggies. The Aggies are now 5-8 in games decided in single digits.
· NM State had a slight rebound advantage over Utah Tech (38-33).
· The Aggies were able to keep up with the Bision despite being outplayed 50.1% to 30.3% throughout the game.
· The team had one of their better shooting performances from benefit strip shooting with an efficient 82.4% (14-17).