LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team claimed its first conference win 66-63 over Grand Canyon on Saturday, Jan. 4. The win marks the first for the Aggies in over a month and snaps a seven-game losing streak. Two Aggies collected double-doubles and three rebounded in double figures.
NM State saw three score in double figures and three collect double-figure rebounds. Freshman Brianna Freeman set a career-high with 16 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double as an Aggie. Sophomore Sasha Weber also saw a double-double with 10 boards and 12 points on the night. Junior Danesia Williamson had 23 points in the game – her second highest scoring game this season. Defensively, freshman Tyler Ellis led NM State with 11 rebounds.
The Aggies shot 37.5 percent as a team and held GCU to 35.5 percent. NM State also out-rebounded the Antelopes 45-39, but turned over the ball 22 times. The Aggies had 11 bench points and shot 36 percent from three-point range, going 9-for-25 on the night.
“We are 1-0 and tied for first in the WAC,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “We have gone through a lot of adversity this year with losing Danesia for the first 10 games and losing Elena (Holguin) a month ago, so right now we have eight kids. They call themselves the “Elite Eight” and they are working their butts off. Our chemistry has never been better.”
“I think the kids really did well. They executed down the stretch, hit free throws, made some bonehead mistakes still, but we came back and managed the game well and made plays,” Trakh said.
The Aggies took a 9-0 lead and held GCU scoreless for more than seven of the first minutes of the half. The Lopes finally got on the board with a layup at the 12:33 mark. GCU played off the momentum to tie the game at nine apiece.
Freeman busted the tie with a three from the top of the arc and the Aggies moved ahead 17-9 quickly with a three by Mack and a jumper from Williamson. NM State extended the lead to 20-9 with a streak of three’s and a couple good shots.
The Lopes broke up the Aggies 13-2 run with seven straight of their own to cut the lead to four with four minutes left in the half. NM State allowed GCU to get within two and the teams traded baskets with the Aggies holding the slight lead until two good shots from the free throw line put NM State up by four (29-25).
Williamson sank a free throw with less than a second to play to end the half with a 30-25 lead over the WAC leading Lopes.
Freeman led the Aggies with 12 points in the opening half and also tallied six rebounds. She was 4-for-7 from the field and helped NM State shoot 33 percent as a team and hold GCU to 31.3 percent.
GCU got the first six points of the second half and took its first lead of the game 31-30. Just on the other side of the media timeout, NM State reclaimed the lead with a jumper by Freeman and a three by Weber.
The teams traded baskets well into the second half until sophomore Abby Scott hit a three to put the Aggies up 41-39 with just over 11 minutes on the clock. Williamson and Scott hit a couple of good shots to extend the Aggies lead to six points.
With the Aggies up 57-53, GCU picked up the next eight points for the lead and NM State depended on two free throws from Williamson to get the Aggies back to just a 63-61 game. With the Aggies behind, Williamson got a rebound off a free shot and tied the game at 63 each with 1:05 on the clock.
The teams battled in the final minute, but managed to take a three point lead with two free throws by Williamson and one by freshman Tamera William for the Aggies first win in over a month and 66-63 win over Grand Canyon.
The Aggies dig into conference play as the team heads to Seattle U and Idaho Jan. 9 and 11. NM State meets the other two WAC veteran teams beginning with the Redhawks at 8 p.m. on Jan 9. The Aggies then make the trip south to Idaho at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11.