LAS CRUCES, N.M. – New Mexico State women’s basketball saw the work of its freshmen class help the Aggies to an 88-56 win over Eastern New Mexico on Thursday, Nov. 21. The Aggies improve to 2-3 on the season with three Aggies scoring in double figures.
Redshirt sophomore Elena Holguin was just one point shy of matching her career high with 18 points in the game, while freshman Vanessa Garner tallied 17 and junior September Offutt scored 11. Each of Offutt’s points came in the second half. She had eight rebounds on the night with seven on the offensive side of the ball.
“These kids are performing. They earned playing time,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “Going forward, these kids have to earn playing time by their performance on the floor. These freshmen – you saw what they can do on the floor. I think Tamera (William) was a big addition. I’m very pleased.”
Freshman Moriah Mack hit a hot streak late in the second half and came up with nine points, while fellow freshmen Tyler Ellis and Brianna Freeman each finished the game with nine rebounds. In her season debut, Tamera William came up with four points, but was solid on defense with an offensive and defensive board, while going 2-3 from the line.
The Aggies shot 43 percent on the day, but were stellar in the second half with 52.9 percent from the floor. NM State also out-rebounded ENMU 57-37. NM State had 25 second-chance points on the game and 27 off turnovers, while allowing just 14 off turnovers for the Zias.
Mack got the Aggies on the board with a shot from inside the paint, and Garner increased the early lead with a three from the right side of the arc. ENMU came back to tie the lead, but Holguin and Garner each hit three’s to make it 11-5 in the first three and a half minutes of the game.
The Zias took their first lead over the Aggies 15-14 off a shot from the top of the key with just over 13 minutes on the clock. One good free increased the lead for a brief moment, when Garner hit a layup in the paint to tie things up 16-16.
A long shot from far beyond the three-point mark pushed the Aggies ahead, while a turnover and a layup by Freeman set the Aggies up with a 19-16 lead on the other side of an ENMU timeout.
NM State continued on their 10-point run before two free shots moved the score for the Zias with 8:28 on the clock. The Aggies continued to dominate by taking a 15-point lead (36-21) in the final five minutes in the half.
ENMU made it a seven-point game with the next eight, but Holguin hit two from the line, helping the Aggies keep their distance at 39-30 with less than a minute to go, but a three at the buzzer from the Zias ended the half at 39-33.
Garner led all scorers with 11 points at the half while Ellis was best on defense with eight rebounds, two of those on offense. The Aggies were better as a team with 30 rebounds, while the Zias had just 22. Holguin was close to the double-digit mark with nine points in the opening half. The Aggies held ENMU’s leading scorer to just seven points.
The Zias opened up the second half quickly closing the gap to just one point before sophomore Abby Scott hit a layup to make it a three-point game. The teams traded possessions and the lead with ENMU hitting two three’s and Offutt hitting a couple of layups and a three.
“In the first three minutes of the second half, they were running a dummy offense on us,” Trakh said. “So I said ‘heck with it’, I’m going to put in kids that want to play defense. So we put in Moriah and Tamera and they changed the tempo and Vanessa came out and pressured, so the defense turned it around. We put five people that wanted to leave it all out on defense.”
With NM State leading 52-47 with 14:30 on the clock, Offutt sank another layup, to bring her game total to seven, all coming from the second half. The Aggies continued on a 17-3 run over the Zias to push the lead back to 13 on the other side of the under-12 minute media timeout.
The Aggies continued to drive through ENMU with back-to-back layups by Mack and one from Freeman, giving the Aggies a 19-point advantage.
Sitting with its largest lead of the game, NM State allowed the Zias their first point in five minutes, breaking up a 15 point run.
With the Aggies up 73-52 with just seven minutes left in the game, Brandee Walton hit a pair of free shots and a field goal by Tamera William in her season debut moved the Aggie lead to 78-52. Offutt hit a layup and Holguin sank her third three of the game, giving the Aggies a 37-5 run over ENMU.
The final two minutes ended with Garner hitting a three and Freeman getting a layup to run out the clock with an 88-56 win over the Zias.
The Aggies look to host the 2013 edition of the Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 29-30. NM State first meets Northern Illinois on Friday at 11 a.m. before facing Milwaukee at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30.