LAS VEGAS - After a tightly contested first half of play, the New Mexico State women's basketball team stamped its ticket into the second day of the 2013 Western Athletic Conference Championships, with a 76-63 win over ninth seed UT Arlington on Tuesday afternoon, March 12.
NM State picked up its sixth win in seven games and second straight win over the Mavericks with the floor leadership of Kelsie Rozendaal. The senior worked for career highs in both points (23) and rebounds (17) on the day to lead the Aggies to the win.
Sophomore Danesia Williamson earned her third consecutive game with double-figure scoring as she knocked down 16 points in the win. The pair was joined in double-digit scoring by senior Stefanie Gilbreath and freshman Sasha Weber with15 and 14, respectively.
The Aggies shot 37.7 percent from the floor and held the Mavericks to 33.9 percent shooting.
"I am so pleased with the way our team has been playing the last few weeks," head coach Mark Trakh said. "With Kelsie (Rozendaal) playing at 100 percent, we have been able to make shots and defend like I know we are capable. We are ready to get out and get to work tomorrow against Seattle. It will be a tough contest, but we are ready."
NM State picked up an early lead in the opening half 8-2 before UTA came up with their first lead of the game with 14:42 on the clock. The Aggies pulled back the lead quickly after with a jumper by Williamson.
The Mavericks were able to knot the score at 18 with 8:30 to play, but a bucket by Gilbreath helped the Aggies break away slightly. The teams kept the score close until the 2:55 mark when Jasmine Rutledge was able to extend the NM State lead to four.
The teams traded points, but a big bucket by Rozendaal put the Aggies ahead 30-28 going into intermission.
In the opening half, Rozendaal led all scorers with 10 points and NM State was shooting 31 percent from the floor, while the Mavericks shot 37 percent.
UTA picked up a 34-32 lead in the second half before Rozendaal tied it up with a layup from the right side. Both teams battled for the lead, but it was not until the the 13:08 mark that UTA was able to take a 45-42 lead over the Aggies.
The Mavs' lead did not last long as a long three by Sasha Weber tied it up for NM State. Rozendaal picked up her next two buckets of the game to move the Aggies up 49-45 over UTA with 10:56 to play and extend the Aggies to a 7-0 run.
The Aggies extended the lead going into the under 8-minute timeout with a 13-0 run over the Mavericks and a 55-47 lead. A three by Weber from the left corner of the arc increased the Aggie threat to pull away from UTA.
As the Aggies pulled away with a 67-49 lead with 4:15 to play, NM State allowed the Mavericks nine unanswered points until Williamson sank two free shots broke up the small run. As Rozendaal hit two more free throws, the Aggies finished the final 1:30 of the game with seven more free throws for a final score of 76-63.
NM State moves on to the quarterfinals of the 2013 WAC Championships to face the No. 1 seed Seattle U on Wednesday, Mach 13, at 7 p.m. (MT).