LAS VEGAS (March 7) - The No. 8 seed New Mexico State women's basketball team made a couple of late runs against No. 1 seed Fresno State in a Western Athletic Conference (WAC) quarterfinal to cut the Bulldog lead to four points in the final minutes but could not close the gap, falling 66-58, inside the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas Wednesday night.
The Aggies (6-24) never led in the game but trailed Fresno State (26-5) by four at the half, 26-22. The Bulldogs moved ahead by as much as 15 midway through the second half but an 8-0 run from Aggie sophomore guard Dre Chenier brought NM State to within four, 52-48, with 5:24 left. The Aggies maintained a two-possession game with 1:07 left at 62-58 but could not climb any closer.
NM State was plagued by turnovers in the game, committing 20 before intermission and finishing with 29. The Aggie defense forced Fresno State into three-point shots and the Bulldogs did not hit their usual percentage, making just 7-of-37 from beyond the arc. The Aggies also out-rebounded FS 37-32 and made 19-of-21 from the line to keep within striking distance.
The Aggies received contributions from senior forwards Tabytha Wampler and Kelsie Rozendaal with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Sophomore guard Jasmine Rutledge added 12 tallies.
The game marked the final appearance on the Aggie bench for a quartet of 2012 seniors including Wampler, Rozendaal, Erica Sanchez and Kaitlyn Soto.
After taking part in the opening tip this evening, Wampler matched the all-time career starts mark of 121 set by former teammate Madison Spence last season. Wampler also finished her career at No. 13 on the NM State career scoring list with 1,254 points and at No. 6 on the all-time rebounding list with 887 career boards.
NM State completes the year at 6-24 overall after finishing 3-11 in the WAC. Fresno State improved to 26-5 overall after finishing 13-1 in the conference.
FS shot 33 percent (22-66) from the floor including 19 percent (7-37) from long range. NM State shot 45 percent (19-42) from the field and 17 percent (1-6) from beyond the arc. FS committed only 14 turnovers but forced the Aggies into 29 miscues.
Fresno State scored the first seven points of the game. Junior guard Camila Rosen scored the first five of the game for Aggies to cut the FS lead to 10-5 at the first media timeout.
The Bulldogs stretched the lead to as much as nine at the 7:46 mark of the half. But NM State rallied with a 6-2 run after buckets from junior Chrissy Fletcher and Rosen to make it 18-13 FS with 4:52 left.
Wampler exited the game with her third foul at the under-four minute media timeout, but Rozendaal scored seven straight points to create her own 7-0 Aggie run to cut the Bulldog lead to 22-20 with 1:15 left before halftime.
FS scored the final bucket of the half with 13 seconds on the clock to lead 24-20 at the break.
NM State committed 20 first-half turnovers that led to 21 FS points, while the Bulldogs made nine miscues. The Aggies stayed close out-rebounding the Bulldogs 21-15 and making all seven of their free throw attempts. Sixty-five percent of Fresno State's shot attempts were from long range but the Bulldogs sank only 3-of-22 for 13.6 percent. NM State shot 35 percent in the half (6-17) and held FS to 29 percent shooting (10-34) as the Bulldogs shot twice as many times as the Aggies in the first 20.
A ninth-straight point from Rozendaal to open the second half again cut the Fresno State lead to two points, 24-22. The Bulldogs built a 39-28 lead after back-to-back three-point shots with 15:13 left in the game.
The Bulldogs' Blakely Goldberg scored 12 points before the midway point of the second half, her first points of the game, to put FS up 46-34 at the 12:26 mark. Fresno State built its largest lead of the game at the 10:21 mark with a 49-34 lead.
Junior guard Ki-Ki Moore led four Bulldogs in double-figures with 15 points. Classmate Rosie Moult led the team with eight rebounds and added nine points. Senior guard Blakely Goldberg posted 14 tallies. Forwards Alex Sheedy and Veronica Wilson each dropped in 10 from the post.
Next year NM State is slated to return 10 players that saw minutes on the floor this season including 2013 senior and starting guard Camila Rosen. Forwards Chrissy Fletcher and Malia Magazzeni complete the 2013 senior class.
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