LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Jan. 12) - The New Mexico State women's basketball team fell for the second-straight game at the Pan American Center to the Idaho Vandals 57-51 after a strong second half attempt fell short, leaving the Aggies with a 9-7 overall record and moving the team to 3-3 in Western Athletic Conference play.
Stefanie Gilbreath picked up her second double-double as an Aggie with 21 points and 11 rebounds. The 11 defensive rebounds for the senior marks a new career high while she also tallied a new career number with three steals on the game. The Aggies finished the night shooting 23 percent from the floor, but allowed the Vandals to work for 38 percent.
Senior Kelsie Rozendaal picked up six points and six rebounds in the game with two assists. She was 4-for-4 at the line, only outscored by Gilbreath who was 6-for-6. NM State outscored UI with 12 second-chance points and earned 47 total rebounds on the night.
"It's hard not to stay positive with this team," head coach Mark Trakh said. "We did not play as well as we needed to in the first half, but we really turned around in the second half, and when you have fighters like Simone (Ruedin) and Stefanie (Gilbreath) you know we will be just fine."
NM State got the early lead, going up 14-7 on the Vandals, but a 15-2 run by Idaho left the Aggies stagnant at 16 points before Gilbreath made a three from the left side. That did not stop Idaho as it extended to a 24-5 run. Rozendaal and Gilbreath each came to the line to sink both of their shots to cut the margin to eight. The Vandals maintained their momentum with a pair of layups to close the half at 36-25.
Leading at the half with 12 points, Gilbreath was already holding eight of the Aggies 20 rebounds in the half. Freshman Sasha Weber left for intermission with just two points to her name, but came back to earn nine in the game for the Aggies. It was sophomore Simone Ruedin's seven rebounds that proved to be helpful in the second half.
Each of the Aggies first seven points of the second half came from the free-throw line. Junior Jasmine Rutledge came in with the first layup for the Aggies after NM State allowed the Vandals 12 points. Simone Ruedin brought the Aggies within 10 point with two shots off a technical foul.
A wide-open three by Gilbreath narrowed the margin to just seven points while freshman Abby Scott closed the gap even more with two points from the line. A bucket from inside the paint by Weber moved the Aggies within two, but the Vandals answered back with six points of their own.
A rebound from underneath the basket by Ruedin gave the Aggies a second chance at the basket, but Idaho sent Weber to the line, giving the Aggies two more points. A last second attempt by Rutledge was just off key, giving possession to UI with the final 17 seconds. The Vandals closed the game with 57 points and their third WAC win this season.
NM State shot just 23.5 percent from beyond the three-point line with Gilbreath claiming three and freshman Elena Holguin picking up the only other one. The team's were evenly matched, however, with the Aggies only allowing the Vandals four of their own.
NM State now sits with a 9-7 overall record and 3-3 in the league going into the travel weekend against Utah State and San Jose State next week. The Aggies face off against the northern-based Aggies on Thursday, Jan 17 before traveling to SJSU on Jan. 19.