HONOLULU (Jan. 21) -New Mexico State women's basketball senior Tabytha Wampler posted a season-high 24 points but the Aggies dropped a 51-48 decision at Hawai'i inside the Rainbow Wahine's Stan Sherriff Center Saturday evening.
The Aggies led from the tip for much of the first half, leading by as much a five points early in the contest, its largest cushion of the game. UH took its first lead, 18-17, at the 7:30 mark of the first half. The Wahine kept the Aggies at bay, leading the rest of the game despite five ties by the Crimson and White.
Wampler just missed a double-double with 24 points and nine rebounds. Senior Kaitlyn Soto added 12 for the Aggies.
NM State falls to 4-15 overall and 1-3 in the WAC after the loss. Hawai'i improved to 7-11 overall and moved to 2-1 in conference play.
The Aggies shot 40 percent (22-55) in the game and held UH to 32 percent (17-53) from the field. The Aggies won the battle of the boards 37-33. A game after making a season-high from long-range, NM State struggled from beyond the arc going 2-of-17 on the night. However, UH was worse going 0-for-10.
NM State was whistled for 20 fouls while UH was called for just seven violations. As a result, UH dominated at the free throw line making 17-of-22 attempts. NM State went just 2-of-4 at the stripe. Hawai'i took better care of the ball committing just 10 turnovers to the Aggies' 17 miscues.
Wampler scored seven of the Aggies' first 11 points as the Aggies built its largest lead of the game of 11-6 at the 15:32 mark of the first half. NM State maintained the lead from the start until UH moved ahead with 7:30 left in the half at 18-17.
Neither team could pull away from the other as it remained a one-possession game until halftime when the Rainbow Wahine led 27-25.
The Aggies shot 43 percent (12-of-28) in the first half and held UH to 33 percent (9-of-27). The Wahine made up the difference in field goals at the line, making all nine free throw attempts while NM State was not awarded an attempt in the first 20 minutes. NM State led on the boards 19-13 at the break. The UH bench led the Aggie reserves 8-2 in the half.
NM State senior Kelsie Rozendaal scored first in the second half to knot the score at 27-27. That started a series of alternating buckets by both teams over the course of the next minute. After three ties and UH coming out ahead by a bucket each time, the Wahine stretched the lead to six, 37-31, with 16 minutes to go.
UH went up by eight, 44-36, at the 11:06 mark. But NM State responded with a 6-0 rally with four from Soto and a bucket from Wampler to close to within 44-42 with 7:02 remaining.
The final five minutes of the game were all within the framework of one possession as UH's lead teetered between one and three points. Wampler's final bucket at 2:18 made it 49-48 in favor of Hawai'i but the Wahine scored the final points of the game on a pair of free throws with 25 ticks left.
NM State had possession late but the Aggie attempts at tying the game fell short.
Sophomore Kamilah Jackson registered her 10th double-double of the year with 16 points and 11 boards to lead the Wahine on the night.
NM State returns home for its next game on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 3:30 p.m. against Louisiana Tech. The game can be heard on KSNM 570 AM with play-by-play from Kyle Doperalski.
Click NMStateSports.com for all of the latest Aggie women's basketball news.