This Week: The New Mexico State women's basketball team opens the 2012-13 season at the Pan American Center against Loyola Marymount on Monday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. After the season opener, the Aggies make the trip to face UC Santa Barbara on Nov. 14.
About the Aggies: NM State returns six from the 2011-12 team, including Kelsie Rozendaal, who finished the season with a .526 shooting percentage. Rozendaal was third on the team with 108 total rebounds and second with a .778 free throw percentage on the year. Senior Jasmine Rutledge also returns for the Aggies after averaging 5.7 points per game with 4.1 rebounds. Rutledge saw action in each of the Aggies 30 games last season and started in half of those.
Chrissy Fletcher and Camila Rosen also return to the hardwood as two of the Aggies starters. Fletcher went 4-for-4 at the free throw line against UTEP (11/16) while earning her second straight academic All-WAC honor. Rosen picked up 32 steals as a junior and earned a season-high 13 points against Boise State (1/7).
Gilbreath joins the Aggie squad as a transfer from USC. The former Trojan played in each of USC's 30 games last season, starting 17 contests and averaging 3.9 points per game. She led the team in free throw percentage at 83 percent (24-of-29) and averaged 2.6 rebounds per game. Gilbreath sat out three seasons with the Trojans due to knee injuries.
Along with Gilbreath, Trakh added six other newcomers to the roster. Las Cruces native, Elena Holguin, comes in after redshirting her freshman season. Three-point threat, Alexis Nelson, also joins the Aggies after breaking the single-season record for three pointers with 60 during her senior campaign at Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill.
NM State also brings in University of San Diego transfer, Denesia Williamson. The sophomore started one game and participated in 16 while averaging 12 minutes per game last season. The 5-6 guard averaged 5.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1.1 rebounds per game with the Toreros. Abby Scott (Madras, Ore.), Sasha Weber (Lacey, Wash.) and Shay Young (San Diego, Calif.) round out the newcomers for NM State.
Thriller on Opening Night: The New Mexico State women's basketball team trilled the crowd with an overtime victory over the Lions of Loyola Marymount, 77-76, on Nov. 12, at the Pan American Center.
Sophomore transfer Danesia Williamson locked the score at 69-69 with less than 30 seconds to play in the game. The 5-6 guard notched 19 points on the night. She paved the way for senior Kelsie Rozendaal to give the Aggies the 77-76 advantage with two free shots in the final five seconds of overtime. Rozendall's shots at the line earned her a career-high 22 points, while shooting 8-13 in the season opener. She also notched her first double-double of the year with 11 rebounds.
Williamson and Rozendaal were accompanied by senior Stefanie Gilbreath and junior Jasmine Rutledge in double-digit points. Gilbreath and Rutledge each earned 12 points on the evening with Gilbreath going 5-6 at the line and Rutledge collecting eight boards.
Williamson started things off early with a three-pointer and three buckets in the first four minutes of play. She managed nine points in the first half alone. She was 4-5 from the line and helped the Aggies to an overall 42.3 shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes of play.
Loyola Marymount went on an eight point run in the middle of the half, giving the Lions their first lead of the half 22-21. After trading shots back and forth, a deep pass by Sasha Weber to Rutledge gave the Aggies the lead once again 28-27 with 3:53 left in the first half. Two free shots made by sophomore Simone Ruedin tied the score for NM State at 30 with less than three minutes to play in the half. LMU answered back with seven straight late in the half to gain a 37-30 lead and close out the half. Ruedin earned three steals on the game, a career high for the sophomore.
Big Night for Rozendaal: Senior Kelsie Rozendaal opened her final season in Crimson and White with an outstanding career-high 22 points. She also earned her first double-double of he season with 11 rebounds and not a single turnover
Looking Back: On Monday night, the NM State Aggies opened the seaosn with an overtime win against Loyola Marymount, 77-76. This marks the third straight season-opening win for the Aggies, but the first home-opening win since the 2009-10 season.
Last week, the Aggies opened the season with a preseason exhibition against Fort Lewis College. NM State flew past the Skyhawks in an 80-73 victory in the Pan American Center on Nov. 2.
Newcomer Stephanie Gilbreath led the Aggies with 26 points in just 26 minutes on the court. The senior transfer from USC was 2-for-3 on three pointers and worked for four rebounds.
NM State powered through the second half with 13 second-chance points. Denesia Williamson opened up late in the game to earn 13 second-half points, six of those from the line.
Senior Kelsie Rozendaal proved to be the force under the goal for the Aggies. She finished the game with eight total rebounds, seven of those on the defensive side of the ball.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS
Aggies vs. UC Santa Barbara
Series History: The Aggies meet the UC Santa Barbara Gouchos for the second straight year. NM State took the win in the last meeting in a nail-biting 52-51 win in Las Cruces, N.M. Prior to the Dec. 19, 2011 meeting, the teams had not met since the Aggies final year in the Big West Conference during the 1999-00 season. In that game, the Aggies fell 86-65. All-time, UCSB holds a 12-5 record over NM State.
About UCSB: The Gauchos continue in the Big West Conference and are the defending conference champions after a 17-16 season.
UCSB has eight players returning, including three starters from last year's conference championship team. Four seniors make up the leaders on the team, including Big West MVP Kristen Tilleman.
The Gauchos welcome three newcomers to the squad this season in freshmen Jasmine Ware, Jessica Pino and Kendra Morrison.
UCSB opened the season with a 52-39 exhibition win over Vanguard last week. Starting the game with a 15 point run, Nicole Nesbit led the Gouchos with 17 points with Sweets Underwood just behind her with 14. Last season, Underwood led the team with a 46.9 shooting percentage in her 33 games played. The junior guard averaged seven boards a game with 7.7 points on average.
Looking Ahead: The Aggies continue on the road to battle Rio Grande Rival New Mexico, on Nov. 20, at The Pit in Albuquerque, N.M.
Aggie Returners Earn Academic All-WAC: The 2011-12 Academic All-WAC women's basketball was announced in the spring. To be eligible, a student-athlete must have completed at least one academic year, have at least a 3.00 cumulative grade point average and have participated in at least 50 percent of the team's contests. The following is a list of the five winter sport honorees from the women's basketball squad: Chrissy Fletcher, Jr., Malia Magazzeni, Jr., Kelsie Rozendaal, Sr., Kaitlyn Soto, Sr., Tabytha Wampler, Sr.
Fresh Faces for Trakh: Head coach Mark Trakh brings on a slew of newcomers for the 2012-13 campaign. Among the new Aggies are transfers Stefanie Gilbreath and Denesia Williamson. Gilbreath joins the Aggie squad after spending four seasons with USC. Gilbreath sat out three seasons with the Trojans due to knee injuries, but played in each of USC's 30 games in 2011-12. Williamson wears the Crimson after one season with University of San Diego. The 5-6 guard averaged 5.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1.1 rebounds per game with the Toreros.
Along with the two transfers, Trakh also adds five other players to the roster. Las Cruces native, Elena Holguin, comes in after redshirting her freshman season. Three-point threat, Alexis Nelson, joins the Aggies after breaking the single-season record for three pointers with 60 during her senior campaign at Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill. Abby Scott (Madras, Ore.), Sasha Weber (Lacey, Wash.) and Shay Young (San Diego, Calif.) round out the newcomers for NM State.
Last Season: Under the helm of first-year head coach, Mark Trakh, the Aggies finished the 2011-12 season with a 6-24 overall season record. This left NM State with a 3-11 Western Athletic Conference record. The Aggies made an appearance at the WAC Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. (3/7). The Aggies were seeded eighth in the tournament but were quickly booted out by No. 1 66-58 State.
Senior guard Tabitha Wampler was the most recent Aggie to join the 1,000 Point Club with a career 1,254 points (2008-12). She joins former teammates Danisha Corbett and Madison Spence along with Aggie great Anita Maxwell (2,601) and Andrea Kabwasa (1,788).
Another highlight for the Aggies in 2011-12 was coach Trakh coaching his 500th game of his career as a Division I head coach. In his 17th year on the sidelines, the floor general notched the milestone against Hawai'i in Las Cruces Feb. 16.
Preseason Accolades: The Western Athletic Conference coaches and media picked NM State to finish eighth and ninth in their respective preseason polls, and senior guard Stefanie Gilbreath was named an All-WAC preseason pick.
The Aggies were picked sixth in last season's preseason polls. NM State finished 6-24 overall and 3-11 in the conference to place in eighth. The eighth place rank gave the Aggies a tough battle against top-ranked Fresno State in the 2012 WAC Championships. The Bulldogs defeated the Aggies 66-58, knocking NM State out of the tournament.
Reigning first team All-WAC honoree Christensen was voted Preseason Player of the Year and is the on the preseason All-WAC first team. Joining her on the first team are Alyssa Charlston of Idaho, Louisiana Tech's Whitney Frazier, Diamond Ford of Texas State and Seattle U's Kacie Sowell.
-- The 2012-13 season marks the 40th season of Aggie women's basketball. The first season was 1973-74.
-- This season also marks 25 years since the Aggies last NCAA tournament appearance. The 1987-88 team was the last in program history to receive an NCAA berth.
Potential Aggie Milestones:
-- Head coach Mark Trakh needs just four more victories to reach No. 300 in his career as a Division I head coach- this could happen as early as Nov. 24 during the Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic if the Aggies take a 5-0 start.
-- With 11 victories during the 2012-13 season, NM State will reach its 600th win in program history. Currently, the Aggies are 589-524 all-time.
Aggies Host 16 Games This Season: The Aggies' 17 home games at the Pan American Center is the fifth time in six seasons NM State plays host to more than 15 contests. Along with this year's ledger, here are the prior four season slates with 16-plus games in Las Cruces including a school-record 18 games last year in 2009-10.
Aggies slated for 29 games in 2012-13 season
Trakh's squad is set to host 16 regular-season games at the Pan American Center for the third straight season - matching the third-most amount of home contests in the NM State record books. It marks the 14th season that the Crimson and White play host to 15 or more opponents in the regular season. In those previous 13 seasons, NM State averaged 18 wins per year.
With five new squads joining the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) schedule this season, the conference slate grows to 18 games. Each squad will play home-and-home contests with the other nine teams. New schools on the Aggies' conference schedule this year include Denver, Seattle, Texas State, UT Arlington and UTSA. NM State's travel partner in 2012-13 will be the Pioneers of Denver.
The Aggies' upcoming non-conference ledger consists of seven home match-ups and four road contests. Prior to the WAC schedule, NM State tips against four opponents with 2012 postseason credentials.
NM State's 29-game, regular-season schedule kicks off in Las Cruces Monday, Nov. 12 against Loyola Marymount.
The Aggies' first road contest occurs at 2012 NCAA Tournament team UCSB (Nov. 14) in Santa Barbara, Calif., NM State knocked off the Gauchos at home last season 52-51.
In-state rival New Mexico is on the Aggie docket for a pair of home-and-home contests in 2012-13. NM State travels to Albuquerque on Nov. 20 and completes the Rio Grande Rivalry against the Lobos at the Pan American Center on Dec. 18.
New Mexico State looks for its fifth Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic title in six seasons on Nov. 23-24. Joining the Aggies in the two-day holiday tourney is 2012 Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) selection Drake along with UC Irvine and George Mason. NM State and GMU will battle in game two of the tourney Nov. 23.
Rival UTEP also advanced to the postseason as an NCAA qualifier last season. The Aggies and Miners play twice in the first month of the season. NM State travels to El Paso on Nov. 28 then hosts UTEP a week later in Las Cruces Dec. 5.
Rounding out the non-conference slate, the Aggies travel to Southern Utah on Dec. 1 and later hosts 2012 WNIT opponent UMKC (Dec. 21). NM State breaks away from conference play when it entertains CSU Bakersfield Feb. 23.
NM State opens WAC competition with four of its first six games at home in 2012-13. The Aggies open the conference schedule at home against UT Arlington on Dec. 29 before a New Year's Eve battle against traditional power Louisiana Tech Dec. 31.
The Aggies kick off 2013 with their first conference road trip to UTSA Jan. 3 before visiting Texas State for a game two days later. NM State returns home to face 2012 Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) selection Seattle on Jan. 10 and Idaho Jan. 12.
On Jan. 17, another 2012 WNIT participant in Utah State hosts NM State. The Aggies then travel to San Jose State Jan. 19 and make a visit to Denver a week later to complete the first half of the WAC slate.
The Crimson and White hosts Texas State Jan. 31 and UTSA Feb. 3 before making road trips to Idaho (Feb. 7) and Seattle (Feb. 9). SJSU invades the Pan Am on Valentine's Day a couple days before Utah State pays a visit to the Mesilla Valley Feb. 16.
After stepping out of conference to play Bakersfield, NM State hosts Denver for its final home game on Senior Day, March 2. The Aggies close out the regular season on the road at LA Tech (March 7) and at UTA (March 9).
The 2013 WAC Tournament will be held at a neutral site in Las Vegas for the third year in a row. The Orleans Arena will play host to both the men's and women's conference basketball tournaments March 12-16. All 10 teams will take part in the conference tourney.
In a transitional season, the Aggies completed the 2011-12 campaign at 6-24 in Trakh's first year on the NM State sideline. The Aggies finished the season on a strong note pushing top-seeded Fresno State to the final minute at the 2012 WAC Tournament before the Bulldogs escaped with an eight-point victory.
NM State returns seven players from a year ago but loses the services of Aggie 1,000-point club member Tabytha Wampler and fellow departed seniors Erica Sanchez and Kaitlyn Soto. Trakh and his staff added six new commitments including former high school All-American and USC transfer Stefanie Gilbreath.
Gilbreath, a 6-1 guard originally from Katy, Texas, joined fellow spring signees Danesia Williamson, a 5-6 guard from San Diego and Alexis Nelson, a 5-7 guard from Aurora, Illinois. They followed fall signees Abby Scott, a 6-1 guard from Madras, Ore., Sasha Weber, a 6-0 guard from Lacey, Wash., and Shay Young, a 6-0 guard from San Diego.
Radio Coverage: The Aggie Sports Network is producing 15 games on KSNM AM 570 this season, along with any contests in the post season. Radio coverage is scheduled for the Loyola Marymount game in Las Cruces on Monday as well as the Aggies first road game at UC Santa Barbara, Wednesday on KSNM AM 570 with Jay Sanderson giving the play-by-play.
All games aired on radio are produced by the Aggie Sports Network on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces. The broadcasts can also be heard from anywhere around the world on the Internet by logging onto www.NMStateSports.com. Just click on the live events link to access the coverage for a fee.
Television Coverage: Eight games are scheduled to air on television this season on AggieVision. The first game broadcast is the Aggies home game versus I-10 Rival UTEP on Nov. 28 from the Pan American Center. Fans can also go to www.AggieVision.tv for channel listings.
Live Stats on the Web: Live stats will be available for fans at www.NMStateSports.com at no cost for the entire season. Fans can click on the Live Events link at the top of the NMStateSports.com home page to access the live stats. Live stats for away games may direct fans to the opposing team's athletics page.
Twitter/Facebook: Get all the updates of Aggie Athletics on Twitter and Facebook. Get in-game statistics and in-game updates on Twitter @NMStateAggies. Find out about all Aggie Athletics promotions and events on Facebook (NMSU Athletics and The Aggie Student-Athlete).