The New Mexico State women’s basketball team will kick off their 2016-2017 season against the San Jose State Spartans, as the team is hoping to pick up where they left off last season, reaching the first round of the NCAA tournament where they fell to second-seeded Arizona State. In 2015-2016, the team was 26-5 (13-1 WAC), tied the all-time program record of wins in a single season, and won the WAC regular season and tournament titles.
Reigning back-to-back WAC Coach of the Year Mark Trakh will be embarking upon his sixth season in Las Cruces after consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. These past two seasons have been exciting and promising to say the least, and Aggie fans have more than enough reason to be excited for the season ahead.
Though Sasha Weber, who led the Aggies in scoring last season, and Shanice Davis who was third in scoring and the leader in assists are gone, first-team all WAC senior guard Moriah Mack (11.7 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and senior forward Brianna Freeman (9.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG) headline those returning. Fellow senior guard Tamera William (7 PPG, 4.8 PPG), last year’s freshman sensation and WAC All-newcomer sophomore guard Brooke Salas (9.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG), junior guard Zaire Williams, and Boise State transfer junior guard Tonishia Childress will be picking up the slack of the graduated seniors.
The San Jose State Spartans reached the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference last season for just the second time in school history after winning thirteen games which was the most since the 2004-2005 season. Head coach Jamie Craighead will be at the helm in her fourth season and she brings with her an up-tempo style offense and stifling defense.
The Spartans will lean on Dezz Ramos to lead the way this season. Ramos is a senior point guard and a Weber State transfer that averaged over 18 points per game last season. To compliment Ramos, junior guard Myzhanique Ladd (7.8 PPG, 5 RPG) and Jasmine Smith (9.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) are among the starters that hope to build on the success of last year. There will be six new faces in Spartans uniforms this year in Sacramento State transfer forward Hallie Gennett, five-foot freshman point guard Taylor Turney, Anna Thomasdotter, six-foot-three center Alexis Harris, Analyss Benally and Fa-Ko-Fieme’a Hafoka.
The Spartans 72.2 points per game last year, compared to the Aggies 68.6 a contest, but their plus nine margin versus opponents shows that NMSU was the superior defensive team. From behind the arc, the numbers are almost identical at 32% and 7.5 three pointers per game were made by the Aggies last season, and 32.2% and 7.9 threes per game were made by the Spartans.
The Aggies will travel to the Pit to take on I-25 rival New Mexico on November 15.