PHOENIX – New Mexico States women’s basketball (9-10, 4-3 WAC) lost its second straight game Thursday night to Grand Canyon (12-4, 6-1 WAC) after the two teams met again in overtime.
Although the Aggies weren’t at their best offensively, they proved once again that their defense is a force to be reckoned with. NM State forced 19 turnovers against the Lopes — the sixth straight game in which they’ve forced more than 15 turnovers and the 17th game this season in which an opponent has recorded 15 or more turnovers.
Molly Kaiser again led the Aggies in scoring after she had 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal. Shania Harper recorded her fifth double-digit win of the season after recording ten points, eight rebounds and a season-high three steals. Tayelin Grays also had a nice game with ten points, seven rebounds and a steal. Silena Peterson (10) and Taylor Donaldson (10) also scored in double figures in the game, giving the Aggies five players in double figures – the most players to reach that mark for the season.
NM State won the opening pick of the game but failed to score after three consecutive misses on their first possession. The Lopes took advantage of this and scored the game’s opening points nearly a minute and a half into the ballgame. Silena Peterson started scoring for the Aggies after they hit a corner triple off a Molly Kaiser lining. It wasn’t long before the Aggies scored again as their press forced turnover at the Lopes inbound and made it possible Shania Harper an easy run to the basket for the second aggie result of the game.
NM State scored the next four points of the game when Harper found a way to drop a layup after being contacted by her defenseman and sent her down the line for an opportunity and one. Molly Kaiser drove the lane on the next possession and found the net after another lope turnover, making the game 9-2 in the Aggies’ favour. GCU picked things up with less than five minutes left in the quarter. After starting the game with 1-6 shots, the Lopes met without miss on their next six shots and ended the quarter on a 13-2 run.
Heading into the second period, GCU led 15-11 against the Aggies. Taylor Donaldson connected with a middle-distance jumper off the wing to give NM State the quarter’s opening points. Donaldson later netted again, this time with a three, cutting Lopes’ lead to two with 6:36 at the half. Another GCU scorer extended their lead to 13 with just under three minutes left at halftime. Ashley Strawbridge ended the aggie scoring drought with a jumper just inside the three-point arc to reduce the deficit to 11, making it a 30-19 game. Molly Kaiser scored the next five aggie points of the half, attacking the defense’s teeth with a driving layup and beating the shot clock with a catch-and-shoot jumper from the corner, cutting Lope’s lead to six to head for the break walk. At half time it was 30:24 in favor of GCU.
Most of the first-half points came from inside the paint after both teams shot a combined 4-15 from three. GCU had a +5.0 rebound advantage over the Aggies (19-14), with NM State having a +2.0 advantage on the offensive glass (6-4). Molly Kaiser and Taylor Donaldson led the Aggies at the break by seven points each. Shania Harper led the team in rebounding with four boards.
The Aggies opened the scoring again in the third quarter, using the fast break to their advantage after a forced GCU turnover Shania Harper. A pair went through free throws Molly Kaiser cut the Aggies deficit down to two. NM State was now on an 11-0 run that stretched back to the end of the first half after trailing 17-30 in the second quarter. GCU was gone 5:48 without recording a basket before Olivia Lane ended Lopes’ drought with a second chance layup. After the Lopes jumped out to a five-point lead, Taylor Donaldson rode the track and found the basket again, taking the score to 35-32 with 5:47 remaining in the period.
NM State was able to regain the lead – their first since the opening frame – after that Tayelin Grays knocked down a wide-open three from the right wing to make the score 37-36 with 2:26 in the third. The Lopes finished the quarter 43-39 after a layup and a three-pointer to the buzzer.
The fourth quarter was another back-and-forth, with neither team giving up a huge lead. Silena Peterson was able to bury her second three of the game with 7:03 left to play in regulation and reduced the aggie deficit to two. Grand Canyon extended their lead to nine just over four minutes from time. The Aggies continued to struggle down the track as they tried to claw their way back into that game. Molly Kaiser helped matters with a three-pointer – only their sixth of the season – and brought the score to 60-55, forcing GCU to take a timeout. After knocking down a pair of free throws at the other end, Tayelin Grays poked the ball free in midfield after a miss by GCU’s Aaliyah Collins. Grays drove the length of the course and found the net for a layup that put the score at 60-59.
1:18 left to play Taylor Donaldson found himself at the line to give the Aggies the lead as time slowed. She was only able to make one of the two tries but leveled the game at 60 as both teams headed towards the final minute of regulation. The Aggie defense kept the Lopes offense scoreless in the final 3:42 of the rule and now had a chance to take the lead and steal a win. With seconds left on the clock, the Aggies called a time-out to draft a game for the final shot. The ball changed hands a few times before it was found Molly Kaiser on top of the key. Kaiser drove the train and made a lot of contact. However, no whistle was blown when the buzzer sounded, spelling the end of regulation and sending that game into overtime.
The Aggies did everything they could in overtime but couldn’t find the basket and only finished 1-7 shots in that period. On the other hand, GCU managed to concede 3-6 shots in overtime, ultimately giving them a 69-62 lead and handing the Aggies their third loss in conference play.
· The Aggies won the opening pick
· Five Aggies finished in double figures: Molley Kaiser (16), Tayelin Grays (11), Taylor Donaldson (10), Shania Harper (10) and Silena Peterson (10).
· Shania Harper had a season-high three steals with ten points and eight rebounds.
· The Aggies forced 19 turnovers, the 17thth th time this season they’ve forced 15+ turnovers in a game and the sixth straight game in which they’ve forced 15 or more turnovers
· The Aggies got 23 of their points from turnovers.
Half of the points scored tonight came in the suit (66/131)