Las Cruces, NM - The New Mexico State women’s basketball team hosted Western Michigan in the season opener on Sunday afternoon at the Pan American Center. In a game full of runs and momentum swings the Aggies fell behind in the fourth quarter and dropped the season opening contest, 64-55.
Following the loss head coach Brooke Atkinson commented on the team’s opener saying, “I challenge the team to form an identity defensively and I think we did that really well tonight, but we just didn’t have a great shooting night and a few consecutive possessions put us behind.”
The game began with little scoring from either side which kept the game close in the opening 10 minutes. The Aggies saw six players contribute to the scoring and the team trailed 18-15 at the end of the first quarter.
NM State took a little bit of time to get rolling in the second quarter with the first basket coming 1:31 into the frame when Zaire Williams hit a three-pointer to bring the Aggies within one, 19-18. Then at the 4:41 mark Jeneva Toilolo knocked down a basket to give the team its first lead, 24-22, since the opening quarter.
After some back-and-forth action, NM State only trailed Western Michigan 31-27 at the end of the first half. Brooke Salas and Williams led the way with six points apiece and Salas also added a team-best 11 rebounds.
The Broncos expanded their lead midway through the third quarter, going up 43-32. The run by Western Michigan saw the Aggies go 0-for-8 from the field and scoreless for 2:29 before Atkinson called a timeout with 3:00 remaining.
This stoppage in play saw the Aggies come out inspired after the break with Salas ending the drought with a three-pointer which began a 13-2 run for NM State. The team then entered the fourth quarter all tied up, 45-45.
After a pair of quick baskets from Toilolo gave the Aggies a 49-45 lead, Western Michigan then went on a run of their own putting up 16 straight points. This gave the Aggies their largest deficit of the game as they trailed 61-49 with just 1:44 left.
NM State began to close in over the closing minute, but time was the team’s biggest enemy and they fell to Western Michigan 64-55.
Salas led the team in scoring with 15 points and on the glass with 15 rebounds. Toilolo added 10 points of her own and Gia Pack led the team with four steals.
New Mexico State women’s basketball is back in action at home against UT Permian Basin on Tuesday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. in the Pan American Center.