LAS CRUCES – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team seems to be done with playing doormat.
The Aggies made it two straight wins over upstate rival New Mexico on Tuesday, leading wire to wire in a 78-59 decision at the Pan American Center.
NMSU (2-0) had four starters score in double figures, driving into the paint effectively for the first three quarters and putting things away with 3-pointers late. Tamera William paced the Aggies with 18 points. Sasha Weber added 16.
UNM (1-1) struggled on both ends of the floor, failing to cut off the Aggies’ dribble-penetration offense and not finding a way to exploit its size advantage on offense. Freshman Emily Lines scored 14 points off the bench to pace the Lobos, whose starters were outscored 67-33.
“Things we worked on in practice didn’t carry over to the game,” said UNM point guard Bryce Owens, whose uneven outing included 10 points, three assists and six turnovers. “I think we were well-prepared for their dribble-drive but we sure didn’t do a good job defending it.”
Some of the numbers were head-scratching for the visitors. UNM went 8-for-19 from 3-point range, just 15-for-40 from inside the arc where it missed numerous layups, and a dismal 5-of-14 from the foul line. In two games the Lobos are 22-of-47 on free-throw attempts.
Things went far better for NMSU, though not necessarily according to plan. The smaller Aggies outscored UNM 28-20 in the paint but were just 3-for-23 from long range prior to hitting their last four 3s in the closing minutes.
New Mexico State coach Mark Trakh was not entirely satisfied with his team’s offense but he was delighted with the win. It is the first time the Aggies have won two straight from UNM since 1995-96.
“(The Lobos) won 34 of 35 against us until last year,” Trakh said. “That’s not a rivalry. They were the Globetrotters and we were the Washington Generals. At least now we’re competing and that’s a big deal.”
New Mexico State set the tone almost immediately, racing to a 10-1 lead behind a pair of Weber layups. Cherise Beynon kept the Lobos in striking distance early, scoring eight of her 13 points in the first quarter and cutting the deficit to 13-11 at one point.
But William scored on a fast break and Weber netted a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to build the margin to 22-16.
“I haven’t liked our defense in either of our first two games,” Lobos coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “We’re not playing as a unit, giving up too many drives to the middle and not giving help. We’ve worked and worked on it, but we definitely need to work some more.”
Aggies freshman Brooke Salas helped her team pad the lead with some impressive work in the second quarter. Salas, who finished with 13 points, drove past and around UNM defenders for inside baskets as the lead ballooned to 37-26 by halftime.
The Lobos trimmed the margin to nine several times in the third quarter but missed chances to get closer. UNM finished with 19 turnovers and the Aggies effectively put the visitors away with an 11-3 run late in the third quarter.
One bright spot for New Mexico was Lines, who hit three straight 3s and scored the final 13 points for the Lobos. She finished 5-of-6 from the field.
NOTE: Junior guard Moriah Mack did not play for the Aggies and has been ruled academically ineligible because of an administrative error, according to an NMSU statement released after the game.