RENO, Nev. – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team saw its run of three-straight WAC Tournament Championship game appearances come to an end with a 81-68 loss Wednesday to Louisiana Tech in the first round of the 2009 WAC Basketball Tournament at the Lawlor Events Center.
The Aggies had been to the last three championship games in the conference tournament and are just one of three teams in WAC history ever to do so. However, NM State’s postseason magic came to an end in 2009.
La Tech’s eighth straight win ends New Mexico State’s season with a 9-22 record. The Lady Techsters improved to 20-11 on the year with the win where they got 51of its 81 points from Shanavia Dowdell, Adrienne Johnson and Whitney Jones.
“We didn’t come to lose, but we found ourselves in an early hole and didn’t do the things needed to be successful,” head coach Darin Spence said. “This is a great group of kids who fought hard every day and kept their spirits high.”
NM State had trailed by as many as 17 points at the 13:21 mark of the second half, but cut that down to seven points with seven minutes to go. That was as close as New Mexico State would get, as La Tech’s offensive rebounding got them the buckets to hold off the Aggie comeback.
New Mexico State shot 40.4 percent in the game, but had 21 turnovers and allowed Tech to have 26 offensive rebounds. The Lady Techsters scored 36 points in the paint on the Aggies.
Senior Tyshae Walton and sophomores Madison Spence and Danisha Corbett, NM State’s three starting guards, led the Aggies in the loss. Spence and Walton both had 13 points and Walton, in her last game as an Aggie, set a new career-high with eight rebounds. Corbett had 13 points as well with three 3-pointers.
Dowdell finished with 18 points and Johnson matched that 18 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Jones finished with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Aggies survived 13 first half turnovers and foul trouble to only trail by seven after 20 minutes.
Walton’s second jumper in the first six minutes had it tied at 10 before Tech went on an 11-0 run to open up an early double-digit lead. Tabytha Wampler’s turn-around jumper in the paint at 9:32 ended a 4:23 scoreless stretch for the Aggies and started a 10-4 run to pull NM State within five, 25-20.
La Tech got four of its eight points in the last five minutes at the free-throw line to give them a 33-26 lead at the break. Sophomore guard Brittany Palmer hit a3-pointer and Spence got a jumper in the lane for the Aggies in the last three minutes.
Walton had tied her personal-high in the first half with seven rebounds, helping NM State out board the Lady Techsters by four after the first period.
Louisiana Tech got its lead back up to 11 after four minutes in the second half behind four points from Johnson. Dowdell’s seventh point of the second half on an old-fashioned three-point play pushed that Lady Techsters lead up to 52-35 at 13:21.
Wampler had fouled out midway through the second half, but freshman forward Kelsie Rozendaal came in to provide a spark for the Aggies inside. She scored five points in a run that freshman guard Kaitlyn Soto ended with four-straight free throws to make it a seven-point game with seven minutes to play.
However, Tech answered and with its offensive rebounding closed out the game and New Mexico State’s season.
Senior center Niki Holt finished with two rebounds and two blocked shots playing with a torn ACL. She rounded out her career as NM State’s third all-time leader with 116 career rejections.