LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Feb. 2) - Turnovers proved costly for the New Mexico State women's basketball team in a 79-54 loss to Fresno State inside the Pan American Center Thursday night.
Without their starting senior point guard Kaitlyn Soto, lost to a knee injury, the Aggies committed 21 turnovers in the first half against the Bulldogs. NM State finished with a season-high 36 miscues while forcing 21 Fresno State turnovers.
It marked the most turnovers for NM State since committing 35 at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Nov. 29, 2001. The Bulldogs only scored 33 points off of the Aggie turnovers but made up for it from beyond the arc.
Fresno State, who ranks second in the nation with 9.8 made threes per game, knocked down 12 treys on 30 attempts. The Aggies could not match that total making 1-of-12 from long range.
Despite their struggles the Aggies led by as many as five in the first half but trailed 34-25 at the break. NM State put together an 11-5 rally to start the second half and cut the Bulldog lead to 39-36 with 15:17 remaining. But FS answered with a 27-5 run over the next seven minutes to take control of the game at 66-41 with 8:02 left.
Sophomore guard Jasmine Rutledge scored a team-high 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting for the Aggies off the bench. Senior Tabytha Wampler grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, two shy of her season high, to go along with seven points. Sophomore guard Dré Chenier scored a season-high nine points for NM State, all in the first half.
NM State drops to 4-17 with the loss and 1-5 in the WAC. Fresno State remains undefeated in conference at 6-0 and moves to 18-4 on the season.
"I think the key was a couple of missed layups on our end down 40-36," said head coach Mark Trakh. "And with 36 turnovers we obviously missed Kaitlyn Soto at the point guard position. She had command of the court and our offense. But the kids played hard and we had a defensive scheme that worked pretty well for us tonight."
The Aggies shot 45 percent (23-51) in the game and Fresno State matched them at 45 percent (27-60) from the field, but shot 50 percent in the second half. The Aggies won the battle of the boards 37-31. The NM State bench outscored the Bulldog reserves 32-23.
Fresno State opened the scoring with a three after both teams struggled in the first 90 seconds from the field. Sophomore guard Dré Chenier started the Aggies off with a pair of free throws.
Chenier scored seven of the Aggies' first 15 points. Her bucket capped a 9-1 run and helped NM State to its largest lead of the game at 15-10 with 8:19 left in the first half.
Fresno State answered with a 7-0 run to regain the advantage at 17-15 and maintained the lead the rest of the game.
The Aggies shot 42 percent (10-of-24) in the first half and held Fresno State to 39 percent (11-of-28). FS made five treys while NM State posted one from long range. NM State led on the boards 19-15 at the break. The Aggies committed 21 turnovers and forced 13 FS miscues.
Sophomore guard Ki-Ki Moore led four Bulldogs in double figures with 18 points. Freshman guard Madison Parrish finished with 15 off the bench. Junior guard Rosie Moult dropped in 13 points and senior guard Blakely Goldberg added 10.
NM State completes its three-game home stand against WAC foe Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 3:30 p.m. The game can be heard live on the Aggie Sports Network on KSNM 570 AM with play-by-play from Kyle Doperalski.
Click NMStateSports.com for all of the latest Aggie women's basketball news.