LAS CRUCES – It was a tale of two half’s for New Mexico State who was defeated in the final seconds for the second straight game as Idaho beat the Aggies, 57-54, Sunday in WAC women’s basketball action in the Pan American Center.
NM State (6-17, 2-7 WAC) held a 37-26 lead after 20 minutes of shooting 60.7 percent, but they only scored 17 points in the second half where they shot just 25 percent to lead to the tough home loss.
In the last 10 minutes of the game, the Aggies only got two field goals and just six points and saw the Vandals (9-11, 6-3) win the game on free throws by Derisa Taleni the final seconds.
Head coach Darin Spence said afterwards that in these past two games his team has played well in stretches, but haven’t come out to play in the second half.
“We did a lot of good things today, we just didn’t finish,” Spence said. “I know we played hard, we just make the wrong mistakes at the wrong time.”
NM State was led by freshman forward Tabytha Wampler, who finished one rebound shy of her first career double-double. She had 12 points, all of which came in the first half. Sophomore guard Danisha Corbett added 14 points and she had all three of NM State’s 3-pointers while senior guard Tyshae Walton scored 10 in the game.
Idaho shot 47.8 percent in the second half to get back into it. Taleni had a game-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting to lead the Vandals.
New Mexico State took a 13-5 lead after the game was just a little over six minutes old. The last nine of those points went unanswered by Idaho and Corbett had five of them off a three and a layup created by her steal.
Idaho cut the Aggie lead down to two with an 8-2 run. The Aggies did make nine of their first 16 shots, but eight turnovers in first 13 minutes allowed the Vandals to keep it close. However, Wampler was getting good position inside and she scored six points in the final six minutes where NM State outscored UI 15-6 to lead by 11 at halftime.
New Mexico State shot 60.7 percent in the first half, which was its best shooting percentage in any half this season. Wampler led the Aggies in the half with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Corbett had 10 points, as she sank both of her 3-point attempts.
After five and a half minutes in the second half, New Mexico State held a 46-34 lead. Idaho came back with a 12-2 run over five minutes to cut the Aggie lead down to two, 48-46 with 9:56 to play.
Sophomore guard Brittany Palmer put an end to the Vandal run with her driving layup down the lane, but both teams went cold over the next five minutes. New Mexico State was especially in a rut offensively as they only scored five points in a 10-minute run and Idaho was able to tie the game up for the first time with a 3-pointer by Rachele Kloke at 4:05.
A jumper by Walton at 2:54 and a free throw from Corbett were the only points over the next 2:36 and NM State was up 54-41 with a minute to go.
Taleni scored in the lane for Idaho with 43 seconds remaining. NM State got an open three in the corner from Corbett and the shot looked halfway down, but rattled out to Idaho. On the other end of the court, Taleni was fouled with 3.3 seconds remaining and she made both of the free throws to give the Vandals the victory.
Senior center Niki Holt moved into sole possession of sixth place in the WAC single-season total blocks list. Her one block in the game gave her 44 for the season, which is tied for fourth in NM State history.
The Aggies continue with their home-stand next weekend when they host Nevada, Feb. 13, and Hawai’i, Feb. 15.