LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Nov. 28)- The New Mexico State Aggies derailed the undefeated UTEP Miners 69-68 with a late battle on offense at the Pan American Center on Wednesday evening. NM State moves to 4-2 on the season and knocks the Miners back to 5-1.
Senior transfer Stefanie Gilbreath finished her first Battle of I-10 game with a stellar 22 points to collect a regular-season career high. She went 5-for-8 on three pointers and picking up eight rebounds to match her career-high. Sophomore Danesia Williamson also picked up a career-high with 23 points on the game with a solid 10-of-12 at the line.
NM State bested the Miners shooting 35.6 percent on the night and dropping 10 three point shots to UTEP's five three's.
"I feel like we are on top of the world tonight," head coach Mark Trakh said of the win. "This is a team we knew we stood a chance against and the girls just really went out and executed their game. This is the team I like to see out on the court night in, night out."
Sasha Weber opened the game with a long three pointer for NM State before allowing nine unanswered points by the Miners. Williamson dropped her first of 23 points of the night. Starting at about the 13 minute mark, the Aggies allowed 13 unanswered points to UTEP before Williamson earned the Aggies three.
NM State was down by as much as 15 2:21 to play in the half, but Williamson kept the Aggies afloat with fifteen points in the half, including the final Aggie three to lock the halftime score at 37-28 with the Miners leading.
Williamson finished the half with 15 points and 3-for-3 behind the three-point line. As a team, NM State worked for 20 rebounds and a 33.3 shooting percentage.
Gilbreath claimed the first three of the second half for the Aggies, closing the gap to just six points. The teams traded shots until Malia Magazenni brought the Aggies within two field goals of the Miners at the 16:12 mark.
With the Miners maintaining the lead, NM State kept the buckets consistent with a pair of good free shots from Williamson and Elena Holguin near the middle of the half. A three by Gilbreath followed by back-to-back layups by Kelsie Rozendaal and one from Weber moved the Aggies within two points of the Miners. A jump shot by Gilbreath tied the game 61-61 for the first time of the night.
"We traded those last minute shots with UTEP, and both Stefanie (Gilbreath) and Danesia (Williamson) were really impressive and hitting their shots," Trakh said. "I'm very proud of this team and very proud of the Aggie community for showing up and supporting like it they did. That crowd was outstanding, and it makes a difference to us."
Gilbreath also gave NM State the lead 64-63 with a deep three. NM State and UTEP exchanged a couple of three's on their respective sides of the court, but Williamson's work at the free throw line proved to be the necessary tool for the Aggies to earn their first win over the Miners since Nov. 17, 2010.
NM State now heads to Southern Utah to face the Thunderbirds on Saturday, Dec. 1, before traveling south to meet the Miners in El Paso for the second of the two-game rivalry series on Wednesday, Dec. 5.