The New Mexico State women's basketball team came back late in the second half to take a 70-68 victory over Southern Utah, 70-68 on Saturday evening at the Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah.
Head coach Mark Trakh picked up his 300th career victory on the win, and the Aggies move to 5-2 on the season.
The Aggies proved powerful at the line, going 12-for-16 (75.0 percent). Seniors Stefanie Gilbreath and Kelsie Rozendaal each tallied 15 points on the game with sophomore Danesia Williamson collecting 11.
Gilbreath started the Aggies off with a three pointer right at the arc, followed by another three by freshman Sasha Weber. NM State then allowed the Thunderbirds to go on an 11 point run before Gilbreath dropped a jumper for the Aggies.
"We started off slow in the first half, and we really need to work on that," Trakh said. "We need to move the ball and play defense earlier in the game so we don't put ourselves in this position."
With the team trading point, Jasmine Rutledge picked up two free points for NM State before three other Aggies came up with shots to move the score to 26-18. Another pair of free baskets for the Aggies led the way for redshirt freshman Elena Holguin and Williamson to help the team stay in the game.
Abby Scott picked up a steal for a quick layup for NM State, tightening the score to 38-25 after the final media timeout of the half. A couple of goof free throws from Rutledge closed out the first half with NM State trailing by 14.
The second half started on the right foot for the Aggies with Rozendaal picking up the first five points for NM State with a long three to open the period. Williamson went to the line first time in the half, dropping both her shots and posting the Aggies score to 34 before the Thunderbirds made a move on offense.
With 17:35 left in the second half, Rozendaal sank her second of three three's on the night to put NM State within six points of the T-birds after being down by 14 at intermission. With the Aggies controlling the ball early in the second period, a layup by Williamson brought the score to 48-46.
SUU went on a small run, pushing the gap back to seven points, but a deep three by Camila Rosen put the Aggies back within five. Trading shots with the Thunderbirds, NM State came up with two free throws by Rutledge and two more by Williamson to put knot the score at 68. A layup by Williamson with just two second left locked the win for the Aggies and moving their overall season record to 5-2 on the season.
"Overall it was a great win for us. It is nice to be on this four-game win streak. I thought with did a lot of things right tonight. Everyone played hard and now we can go back to focusing on UTEP."
Trakh earned his 300 win on the evening after leading the Aggies to a current four-win streak.
"It's always an honor when you hit a milestone like my 300th win, but tonight we were concentrating on Southern Utah. It's about the game in front of us and now it's the UTEP game on Wednesday. But yes, I am very honored to have worked with such great programs and athletes and coaches to help me get to 300 wins."
NM State now turns its focus to the second of the two-game series against UTEP at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, Dec. 5.