LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team earned its third straight home win with a 77-73 win over Northern Illinois on Friday, Nov. 29. NM State remains unbeaten at home and improves to a 3-3 record on the season.
Sophomore Sasha Weber led all shooters with 18 points on the day. She had seven rebounds and was three-for-seven from three-point range. Junior transfer September Offutt earned 14 points in the game and had six rebounds, while freshman Moriah Mack had 10 points. Freshman Vanessa Garner saw her first game without double-digit scoring (eight points) but was perfect from the line, going 4-4.
“I’m pleased with the team. We could have finished a little bit better, but we’ll get there,” head coach Marck Trakh said. “I thought the kids did a good job. They battled and I am happy. We beat a team from a pretty good conference and now we just have to get ready for tomorrow. I thought the kids did a real nice job.”
The teams started off with a back-and-forth scoring trend, but the Aggies pulled ahead 20-15 off a seven-point run that included a steal by freshman Brianna Freeman.
NIU briefly pulled in front of the Aggies, but Weber hit a three to reclaim the lead. NIU tested the waters, but the Aggies defense held NM State on top. Offutt hit a layup to put the Aggies up 31-28 with just over three minutes left in the half.
NIU took a late lead in the half, with a jumper and a three to head into intermission with a 35-33 advantage over NM State.
NM State was 13-35 from the floor in the opening half with team-shooting percentage of 37.1. Weber led the Aggies with nine points, going 3-4 from beyond the three-point arc. NIU led the game defensively with 24 boards to the Aggies 19. Freshman Tyler Ellis had five rebounds, three offensive, in the first half to lead NM State.
The second half tipped off with Northern Illinois taking a six point lead, but the Aggies held close and regained the lead in the first five minutes. A three by Holguin pushed NM State ahead of the Huskies 44-42.
The teams were neck and neck through the next few minutes, exchanging a one-point difference until the Aggies pulled back ahead of the Huskies 54-49 with a shot from inside the paint by Mack. NIU continued to keep the gap at just two points, answering each of the Aggies’ baskets with one of its own.
Mack continued to lead the second half for the Aggies with eight points. Offutt hit a layup from the right side to push NM State up 65-61 with 3:30 left in the game. She hit a three pointer from three feet beyond the arc to go up 68-63 on the Huskies.
Offutt and Mack drove the Aggies through the final two minutes of play, NIU came within one possession in the final seconds, but NM State pulled off the 77-73 win that was capped off with a pair of free shots by Garner.
The Aggies continue to play host of the Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic, facing Milwaukee at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30.