LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Dec. 29) - The New Mexico State women's basketball team proved dominant on defense, but struggled in the second half, resulting in a 62-59 loss over UT Arlington in the Western Athletic Conference opener on Saturday, Dec. 29 at the Pan American Center. The Aggies move to 6-5 on the season and 0-1 in WAC play.
Abby Scott led the Aggies all night and picked up a career high 18 points in the loss. The freshman also tallied three rebounds on the night. Senior Stefanie Gilbreath and sophomore Danesia Williamson each collected 15 points on the evening and Gilbreath earned the first double-double of her Aggie career with 10 rebounds.
The Aggies opened conference play with a three pointer by Scott, and NM State maintained the lead with a pair of three's by Williamson. The Aggies took a large lead with 11-4 in the first four minutes of play.
The Aggies got out to their biggest lead of the half with 13:20 left in the half when Williamson went to the line twice to make two of her three chances, moving the team ahead by nine over the Mavericks.
Gilbreath sank three free throws to end the half just after putting down her first three of the night to close the half with NM State leading 28-21 over the Mavericks.
"It was a disappointing loss, but you have to have a short memory and you have to keep playing hard and get ready for the game ahead," head coach Mark Trakh said.
After the first half of play, NM State shot just 26.5 percent from the floor, but managed to get 24 rebounds and pick up 10 points off Maverick turnovers. The Aggies forced nine turnovers on the half and held UTA to just one three pointer in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The second period started with a couple of good shots by Scott and senior Kelsie Rozendaal, but UT Arlington found some ground to take its first lead of the night when a layup by Kaira Parker moved the Mavericks up 32-31 over the Aggies on a 12-3 run.
NM State struggled to get back on top, allowing UT Arlington to collect another 10 points after Williamson broke up the run with a layup and Rozendaal made both of her free shots. With the Mavericks ahead 51-41 at the eight-minute media timeout, the Aggies came back to close the gap to 53-49 with a long three by Scott.
"We did some nice things with shooting 50 rebounds and Abby having a career game, we just have to have a better shooting percentage," Trakh said.
The Aggies shot 10-of-38 in the second half, but picked up another 26 rebounds, bringing their total to 50 on the night. That marks the most rebounds all season for NM State. Nine of those rebounds came from freshman Elena Holguin, marking a career-high for the Las Cruces native. Rozendaal collected 11 rebounds on the night with six on the offensive side of the ball.
NM State hosts Louisiana Tech on Monday, Dec. 31, at the Pan American Center at 6:30 p.m. La Tech is 1-0 in WAC play and 5-6 overall.