LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team was tripped up by Loyola Marymount 81-64 on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 16. The Aggies are now 1-2 on the season, while LMU picks up its first win of the year for a 1-3 record.
The Aggies struggled to find the basket in the first half, where freshman Vanessa Garner was the only Aggie in double figures. It was the work of Garner’s second half that helped the Aggies as she finished the game with an impressive 26 points on the night, which led all scorers. She was 6-11 from the field and 10-14 from the line.
The only other Aggie to score in double figures on the night was sophomore Abby Scott with 11 points. Redshirt sophomore Elena Holguin had eight points in the game, which is good for a career high for the Las Cruces, N.M., native.
NM State finished the game with a season-low 26.9 percent from the field. LMU shot 40 percent on the night and had four players in double-figure scoring. The Aggies were outrebounded by the Lions 57-39 and saw just 14 second chance points go their way.
“I don’t think we played hard the full 40 minutes, and that is something we did against Boise State on Thursday,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “I love that Vanessa Garner has stepped up. She is very poised on the court and has the confidence we need, but we need to see that from more people. It’s tough when a freshman is leading the team.”
In the first half, NM State started slow and did not hit a bucket until the 14:57 mark to make it a five point game (10-5). The Aggies went on a mini run to close the gap to just two points. The Lions then came back with a 10-1 run over the Aggies in the middle of the opening period.
While the Aggies shooting continued to struggle, LMU increased its lead over NM State to 15 (34-19) with just over two minutes left in the half. A free throw by junior transfer September Offutt and a layup by Holguin put the Aggies at 22 points going into the half. A pair of jump shots and a three in the final minute of the period by LMU left a 17 point gap as the clock ran out on the half.
The second half was a turning point for the Aggies with Scott picking up four of her six second-half points from the free throw line. Garner also stood out for NM State with 16 of her points coming in the later half.
Early in the second half, LMU stretched its lead to as much as 22 points, but the Aggies worked to cut the deficit with a layup by Offutt and a three by Garner.
Garner then hit two from the line to keep the gap under 20 points until the Lions hit a layup at the 15:39 mark to make the score 50-29.
The teams traded baskets with the Aggies steadily behind until a three-point shot from Holguin and a pair of free shots from Garner sliced the margin to 14 points before the final 10 minutes.
LMU did not allow the Aggies closer than 14 points the rest of the game, and NM State sank just five points in the final four minutes.
“We just have to be patient and keep pushing forward and getting better and better,” Trakh said. “We do have potential and we will be pretty good moving forward.”
The Aggies head up the coast to meet Cal Poly on Monday, Nov. 18, at 8 p.m. NM State then returns home for a 1 p.m. meeting with Eastern New Mexico on Thursday, Nov. 21 in the Pan American Center.