EL PASO, TEXAS – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team was tripped up with a 94-69 loss to UTEP in the 2013-14 season opener at the Don Haskins Center on Tuesday, Nov, 12.
The Aggies finished the game with four players scoring in double figures and shooting 41 percent from the field. Freshman Vanessa Garner led NM State with 16 points off the bench in her Aggie debut. Sophomore Sasha Weber had 13 points while freshmen Moriah Mack and Tyler Ellis each finished their inaugural game with 11.
“UTEP is a great team and I think with our young kids we played well,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “We just have to continue to get better and know that we have some people coming back for conference play that will really help us.”
NM State was slow in the second half with 36 points to the Miners 55, but Garner had 12 of her points come in the second period alone.
“I thought Vanessa (Garner) and Tyler (Ellis) played really well for us. They are going to just continue to get better and really help this team. It’s nice to see players come and play well and make shots off the bench,” Trakh said.
UTEP scored the first three buckets, and quickly took an 11-7 lead, but a three from Weber and a pair of buckets from September Offutt and Mack kept the Aggies in the action.
UTEP quickly increased the lead to 14-7 within the first seven minutes with four free throws. The teams continued to trade buckets with UTEP staying steadily ahead of the Aggies, but a long three by redshirt sophomore Elena Holguin and bucket from Abby Scott brought the Aggies within two with just under nine minutes to play in the half.
Keeping the lead, the Miners saw their lead stretch to 10, but just as UTEP was starting to take control, NM State broke up the trend and cut the lead in half to 28-23 with 5:46 on the clock.
On the other side of a UTEP timeout, the teams traded directions of play and the Aggies pulled within one possession in the final four minutes.
The Aggie defense held the Miners scoreless for nearly two minutes before UTEP drew two free shots. NM State quickly answered with a layup of its own and pulled within one of the Miners, but a deep three and a pair of free baskets drew the Miners to a six point lead going into the half 39-33.
Weber led the Aggies at the half with eight points and Scott was best defensively with four rebounds. UTEP’s Kayla Thornton led all scorers with 12 points and was the only player in double digits at the half.
The Aggies shot 37.8 percent from the floor, while UTEP managed 43.3 percent. NM State did lead the Miners with 20 points inside the paint to UTEP’s 12 points.
Out of the break, The Miners went on a 5-0 run and NM State fell behind 44-33 in the first two minutes. UTEP managed a nine-point run before the Aggies saw their first bucket of the half with a layup by Scott.
Off to a slow start in the final half, Mack picked up her first three of the season, but UTEP maintained control with a 54-39 advantage in the first six minutes of play. A pair of free throws by the Miners gave them the largest lead of the game with 16 points over the Aggies with 14 minutes left in the game.
In the first 10 minutes of the half, Aggies were outscored by UTEP 27-8, but just on the other side of the Aggie timeout, Mack hit a jumper and a three to try and increase the NM State momentum.
The final 10 minutes of play proved more productive for the Aggies as NM State put up 25 points to the Miners 34. UTEP stayed ahead of NM State, but the Aggies did not allow UTEP to control the ball completely.
With 2:48 on the clock, UTEP was able to get up by as much as 37 points, but a few late efforts by the Crimson and White ended the game with a 25 point deficit.
Garner and Ellis each sank two free shots and Ellis managed a layup in the final minute of play. Down 94-66, Weber sank a three at the buzzer to end the game 94-69.
The Aggies make their season debut at home against Boise State at 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14 at the Pan American Center. The team then heads out to California to meet Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Nov. 16.