LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team concludes the 2008-09 regular season Saturday, March 7 against Louisiana Tech in the Pan American Center at 7:05 p.m. Aggie Vision is televising the game on local Comcast affiliates (Las Cruces - Ch. 4; Albuquerque - Ch. 77; Gallup - Ch. 66; Santa Fe - Ch. 21) and on Time Warner Cable in El Paso (Ch. 24). Kyle Doperalski (play-by-play) and Melanie Viramontes (analyst) are calling the game, which also airs on Fox Sports-Arizona on tape delay beginning at 8 p.m.
ESPN Full Court has added the game to its basketball package. The Aggie Sports Network is broadcasting the game live on the radio at KGRT 103.9 FM with Lorn Brown’s call. Live stats and video streaming are available at www.nmstatesports.com.
There is a special $2 ticket price for NM State Alumni Association members and all NM State Faculty and Staff who show their ID’s when purchasing tickets at the Pan Am Box Office. As always, all kids 12 and under get into Aggie women’s basketball games for FREE, and as a special “thank you” to all of our young fans who have support the Aggies this season, the first 100 kids 12 and under into the game will receive a FREE pair of Aggie Sandals!
Saturday night is senior night for guards Holli Ward, Tyshae Walton and center Niki Holt, as the three will be honored at the conclusion of the game. NM State is also holding a halftime ceremony as they are inducting its inaugural class into the Legends Ring of Honor. Ann Rutherford (formally McReynolds) (1975-78), Kris Veatch (1984-88) and Anita Maxwell (1992-96) make up the initial class.
The Aggies are locked in as the No. 7 seed at the WAC Tournament, no matter the outcomes in the WAC on the final day of the regular season. NM State advanced to the championship game of the tournament in 2006 and 2007 as the No. 7 seed. The Aggies will either face Fresno State, who New Mexico State just faced on Wednesday, or the Lady Techsters in the opening round of the tournament.
Eight of NM State’s nine wins have come at home this season and the Aggies are looking to get win No. 10 overall Saturday. New Mexico State has won its last two home games against Louisiana Tech, but the Lady Techsters beat the Aggies by 26 points in Ruston, La., in the first meeting between the two schools this season.
For complete game notes, click on the link at the top of the page.
NM State and Louisiana Tech – The Series
This is a match-up between the two schools furthest east in the Western Athletic Conference. Louisiana Tech leads the series with the Aggies, 8-2, but NM State has won the last two games played in Las Cruces. New Mexico State’s first-ever win against the Lady Techsters came in the 2007 WAC Tournament, when the seventh-seeded Aggies upset No. 2 seed Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals. That marked the biggest upset based on seeding in WAC Tournament history and it ended La. Tech’s run of 25-straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Louisiana Tech was ranked three times when they played NM State, including the first-ever meeting between the two schools in 2001 when they were No. 8 in the nation.
Scouting the Lady Techsters
Louisiana Tech enters the regular season finale in a tie for first place in the WAC. The Lady Techsters have won last six games since interim coach Teresa Weatherspoon took over on Feb. 13 and they now sport a 18-11 overall record and are 11-4 in the WAC. La. Tech has gone 5-8 on the road this season, but is 5-2 in conference road games. Louisiana Tech scores 68 points per game and holds its opponent to a shade under 61. The Lady Techsters lead the league in team field goal percentage, team field goal percent defense, 3-point field goal percent defense and blocked shots.
The top two scorers in the WAC are on La Tech’s roster. Shanavia Dowdell averages 15.5 points and is second in the league averaging 9.4 rebounds per game. Adrienne Johnson average 15.3 points per game and is third in the league with 57 steals. Dowdell sports a league best 52.9 field goal percentage and Johnson is third at 47.4 percent. Guard Whitney Jones is the third Lady Techster scoring in double figures at 13.0 points per game and her and Sydney Steward have both hit 29 3-pointers, which are the most on the team. However, La. Tech is second to last in the WAC in 3-point shooting at just 28.3 percent.
First Meeting with La. Tech
Back on Jan. 30 when the two teams met for the first time this season, La. Tech hit a season-high nine 3-pointers after coming into the game as the worst 3-point shooting team in the conference. Whitney Jones had five of those treys as she scored a game-high 22 points. Shanavia Dowdell and Adrienne Johnson both had 14 points. New Mexico State had 23 turnovers and shot just 28.3 percent in the loss. Danisha Corbett led NM State with 13 points in the loss. Madison Spence added 12 and Kaitlyn Soto had 10. Freshman forward Tabytha Wampler led the Aggies with eight rebounds, but La. Tech out-rebounded NM State 39-35 as they won by 26 points.
Saturday’s game will be the last game at home for seniors Niki Holt, Tyshae Walton and Holli Ward. The three have combined to play 217 games and played over 4,000 minutes. They have scored 806 points over the last four seasons, grabbed 496 rebounds, had 130 assists, 123 blocked shots, netted 85 steals and have started 121 games. Walton has been the leader of the group, as she has played in the 11th most games in school history and made 77 consecutive starts. Holt, who is most likely out for the year with a torn ACL, has blocked the third most shots in school history. Ward is a four-year walk-on guard from Albuquerque, N.M. and has played in 10 games in her career.
Need A Quick Start
In the last two games the Aggies have scored just 18 and 22 points in the first half, as they trailed by at least 10 at the break in both of those losses. The Aggies are just 2-16 this year when they trail at the half, but are 6-3 when they hold the halftime lead. In all but two of its victories this season, the Aggies have scored 30 points or more in the first 20 minutes.
Walton Shines At Fresno
Senior guard Tyshae Walton had one of her best games of the season at Fresno State, March 4. She tied her season-high with 16 points on 8-of-17 shooting to lead the Aggies in the loss. Those 16 points are the most she has scored in a road game in her career. Walton’s three steals in the contest also tied her career-high and she played all 40 minutes in Wednesday’s contest. Three of Walton’s top four scoring games in her career have come against the Bulldogs. The 24 points she scored against Fresno State last year at home is her personal-best. In 10 career games against the Bulldogs, Walton has averaged 8.5 points in an average of 28 minutes of playing time. This season Walton is NM State’s third leading scorer at 8.1 points per game and she ranks seventh in the league in minutes played per game at 32.72. She has scored in double-figures 11 times this season.
Legends Ring of Honor
At halftime of Saturday’s game, New Mexico State is inducting its first members into the Legends Ring of Honor. Ann McReynolds (1975-78), Kris Veatch (1984-88) and Anita Maxwell (1992-96) make up the initial class. All three are members of the NM State Athletics/1st Community Bank Hall of Fame. Maxwell is the school’s only all-American and she holds every single scoring record at New Mexico State. Her 2,601 points still stands as the all-time Big West Conference scoring record and it ranks in the Top 30 in NCAA history. Veatch was a four-time all-conference and academic all-conference honoree and she led the Aggies two their only two NCAA Tournament appearance in 1987 and 1988. McReynolds was a part of the third-ever Aggie women’s basketball team and she earned three Intermountain Athletic Conference first team selections. She went 53-23 in her career at NM State.
Regular Season Finale
New Mexico State is looking to end the regular season on a high note and send itself off to the conference tournament with some momentum. The Aggies are 22-13 all-time in their last game of the regular season and are 4-1 under head coach Darin Spence. In each of the last two seasons, the Aggies lost their second to last game of the year, but came back and won in the finale. Three out of the last four regular season finale’s have come at home.
No. 7 Seed
No matter what happens Saturday night, the Aggies are locked in as the No. 7 seed at the WAC Tournament. NM State has been the seventh-seed in two out of the three WAC Tournaments they have participated in and they reached the finals both times, becoming the lowest seed in WAC Tournament history to reach the championship game. New Mexico State’s victories over a No. 2 seed in the opening rounds of the 2006 and 2007 tournaments marked the highest upset based on seeding in the history of the WAC Tournament.
If NM State beats La. Tech Saturday and Fresno State wins at Utah State, the Aggies will face the Lady Techsters in the quarterfinals of the tournament. If Fresno State losses and La. Tech wins, NM State faces the Bulldogs in the opening round. If they both win or lose it will go down to the tiebreaker, which is decided by the head-to-head record over the No. 3 seed and down the line from there. NM State beat Fresno State and Louisiana Tech as the No. 7 seed in the 2006 and 2007 tournaments, respectively.
Palmer Finds Long Distance Range
Sophomore guard Brittany Palmer hit all three of her shots from downtown against Fresno State, Wednesday. She came into that game with just two made 3-pointers on 14 career attempts. Palmers first three was a tremendous shot in the final seconds of the first half where she hit a fade-away three in the corner. Palmer scored 11 points in all in the game on 4-of-5 shooting and it was just her third career game scoring in double-figures. All three of her games scoring in doubles figures have come on the road. She led the team in assists for the third time in her career, passing out three helpers Wednesday. In each of her last two games she has grabbed three rebounds, which is a single-game personal-best for Palmer.
New Mexico State committed a season-low 10 fouls against Fresno State on Wednesday. Madison Spence was whistled three times, Tyshae Walton, Brittany Palmer and Kaitlyn Soto were all called for two fouls and Kelsie Rozendaal drew one. The Aggies average 17.5 fouls per game and the most they’ve drawn in a game this year is the 28 at Kent State, Nov. 23. Freshman Tabytha Wampler leads the team with her 97 fouls (3.3 per game) and she has fouled out six times, but Wednesday was the first time all year that she did not commit one.
Sanchez Back-to-Back Highs
Sophomore forward Erica Sanchez has set new career-highs in each of her last two games. It started Feb. 26 against Utah State when she blocked four shots. Then at Fresno State Sanchez dished out three assists, giving her a new personal-best. After playing in just seven games as a freshman, Sanchez has played in all but one game this season. She has made 16 starts this year and has been given the starting nod in the last 14 games.
In the last seven ballgames, the Aggies are forcing their opponent to turn the ball over nearly 19 times per game. In three of those games, NM State’s opponent has given the ball away at least 20 times and the Aggies have forced 20 or more turnovers eight times this year. New Mexico State’s opponents average 16.2 turnovers per game this season. Also against Fresno State on Wednesday, the Aggies had 11 steals. That was the most they’ve had in the last 12 games and it was sixth game this season the New Mexico State has registered 10 or more steals.
New Mexico State had 15 offensive rebounds in its last game. That was the most since the Aggies had 17 against La. Tech, Jan. 30, and NM State averages 11.2 offensive boards per game... The Aggies are just 1-15 this year when they score under 60 points... Are just 4-16 when out-rebounded by the opposition... Have a 2-15 record when shooting under 40 percent... Freshman forward Tabytha Wampler had three steals against Fresno State and she now has three games this season with three or more steals...