By: David A. Gest
NM State 69 Cal-State Bakersfield 55
The New Mexico State women’s basketball team continued to roll as they won their 10th straight game with a 69-55 win over the Cal State-Bakersfield Roadrunners inside the Pan American Center to improve to 17-6 on the season and a perfect 9-0 in conference play.
To start the game, the Aggies came out hot, scoring the first seven points of the first quarter. Momentum was undoubtedly in NMSU’s favor, as they enjoyed a 16-0 run between the end of the first frame and beginning of the second quarter. At the half, there were four Aggies with six points or more, though none had been to the free throw line.
Perhaps the best first half performance belonged to CSU-Bakersfield’s center Jazmyne Bartee, who demanded attention with 10 rebounds and four blocks. Bartee’s performance down low and the Roadrunner’s 9-of-10 showing from the charity stripe was still not good enough to be down less than nine at the half as the score was 35-26.
The third quarter belonged to the home team as the Aggies outscored CSUB 18-6 run, beginning with a 13-0 run right out of the halftime break.
Coming into the fourth, NMSU was enjoying a comfortable lead before allowing a 14-2 run by the Roadrunners that cut the game to within nine points. Just past the seven-minute mark, the Aggies answered the call with back-to-back three pointers from Moriah Mack and Zaire Williams. If those 3-pointers weren’t enough to put a cap on the game, Brooke Salas hit a three from long-range as she stumbled backwards to get a round of applause from the crowd.
For the Roadrunners, Jazmyne Bartee enjoyed a double-double with 11 points and 17 rebounds. Brianna Freeman of the Aggies enjoyed her own double-double scoring 10 points to go along with her 12 rebounds and three blocks. There were three more scorers in double digits on the winning team, Moriah Mack (14 points, 7 assists), Zaire Williams (15 points, 4-5 from behind the arc) and Salas, who led the team with 16 points.
NM State 67 Grand Canyon 60
Originally slated for a 2 p.m. Saturday tip-off, the game was moved to Sunday to accommodate the WWE coming to Las Cruces. The extra day of preparation for both teams made for a well-played game. NMSU trailed until Tamera William nailed a 3-pointer with 2:05 left in the quarter and never trailed again in the 67-60 victory over the Lopes.
The win for NMSU keeps the team in sole possession of first place in the WAC standings after the weekend’s games. Seattle U is in second place at 8-1, but NMSU beat the Redhawks 73-69 (OT) on Jan. 26, and will visit Key Arena for the rematch on Feb. 25. The Aggies struggled offensively in the first half, trailing by nine at the half. Leading scorer Brooke Salas was 1-of-7 from the field in the first half, and as a team, NMSU shot just 36.4 percent from the field, while GCU was shooting 45 percent. Marina Laramie scored 26 points for GCU, but was held to just 10 points in the second half after her 16-point first half explosion.
The Aggies are now 18-6 overall and 10-0 in WAC play with four games left, and have a 36-2 record against conference opponents the last two and a half seasons.
NMSU will finish up their regular season on the road, as the team will begin a three-game road trip at Utah Valley on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Aggies will venture up to the Great Northwest to Seattle for what could decide who will be the conference’s top-seed in the WAC Tournament. The team will take a week off and close out the season at UTRGV on Mar. 4.