POSTED: Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 11:38pm
UPDATED: Saturday, January 22, 2011 - 11:50pm
A season-high 23 points from Madison Spence along with 21 points from Danisha Corbett paved the way for a 75-71 victory by the New Mexico State women's basketball team over Utah State inside the Pan American Center Saturday evening.
The senior guard tandem caught fire midway through the first half, combining for 19 straight points over 12 of the final 13 minutes of the first half - sparking a 14-0 NM State run. A pair of threes from redshirt junior Erica Sanchez bookended the seniors' rally.
NM State led at halftime by three, 34-31, but the second half saw multiple lead changes and ties, totaling 15 of each by game's end. Utah State built its largest lead of the game of seven, 58-51, at the 8:34 mark of the second half but Spence and Corbett nailed back-to-back threes to cut the lead back down to one point just 49 seconds later.
It stayed a one-possession game until the 1:14 mark when NM State ended a 6-0 run consisting of four free throws from junior Tabytha Wampler and a pair of foul shots from Spence for a 72-67 lead. USU cut the lead to three with 24.3 seconds left but Wampler and Spence secured the win at the free throw line with three makes down the stretch.
NM State shot 46.2 percent in the game, its best percentage since Nov. 27 against Northern Iowa. Utah State made good on 42.9 percent of its shots. The Crimson and White edged USU 33-31 on the glass. The home Aggies made 10 three-point shots including five by Corbett and three from Spence.
The freshman duo of Jasmine Rutledge and Andrea Chenier sparked a top-notch defensive effort by NM State in the second half playing 15 and 13 minutes, respectively after the break. Rutledge scored a bucket and newcomer Ariella McGhee scored four in six minutes off the bench in the second half.
NM State improves to 9-10 overall and 3-2 in the WAC after the win while Utah State drops to 2-3 in the league and 8-10 overall with the loss.
Utah State opened the game at 4-0 but a bucket from Wampler and a three from Spence gave NM State its first lead at 5-4. USU took back the lead but could not extend it beyond four over the first 10 minutes of the game.
NM State took command of the game at the 9:46 mark as Spence and Corbett kicked off a 14-0 run of their own, part of 19 straight tallies for the home team by the duo over the next nine minutes. At the end of the run, NM State led 28-18 for its largest lead of the game at 4:42 of the first half.
Utah State countered immediately with an 11-3 run over the next 3:36 to knot the game at 31-31, but a late three by Sanchez provided a three-point cushion for NM State going into halftime.
At the half Spence accounted for 14 and Corbett 10 of NM State's 34 points. Rutledge led everyone on the glass with five rebounds. NM State shot 38.7 percent while USU made 40 percent of their shots before the break. NM State led 21-17 on the boards. The Aggies forced nine USU turnovers and committed eight in the first 20 minutes.
Corbett continued her scoring tear to open the second half with five straight points for NM State to push the lead to 39-36 just 90 seconds in. USU rallied to take the lead minutes later.
The teams would then battle for the lead over the next six minutes in a one-possession ball game that saw five ties over that span. USU went on a 9-2 run midway through the half behind five points from junior forward Ashlee Brown for its largest lead of the game of 58-51 with 8:34 left.
Spence and Corbett responded with heroic back-to-back threes to bring it back to a one-possession game until NM State rallied in the final three minutes for the win.
Brown led Utah State with 19 points while sophomore guard Devyn Christensen added 13. Senior guard Alice Coddington posted 11 points and shared the team's rebound lead with five caroms.
NM State takes to the road again for a pair of WAC games in Idaho. The Aggies play at Boise State on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:00 p.m. MT. NM State travels to Idaho on Saturday, Jan. 29 for a 3:00 p.m. match-up with the Vandals. Both games can be heard on the Aggie Sports Radio Network with Kyle Doperalski on KSNM 570 AM.