Las Cruces, NM — The No. 5 NM State defeated No. 4 UTPA in a second-half comeback to advance to the semifinals game of the 2014 WAC Tournament. Junior Danesia Williamson tallied a career-high 37 points and sophomore Sasha Weber picked up her third career double-double in the 86-74 win. NM State moves to 11-19 on the year and UTPA finishes its season 14-16.
The Aggies entered the second half down by 12 points and trailed by as many as 14 but tough defensive and great shooting pushed the team to victory. The Aggies were down 54-40 with 2 minutes and 10 seconds into the second half but went on a 15-1 scoring run to tie the game at 55-55 with 14:08 left in the second half. NM State took its first lead when freshman Brandee Walton put in a lay-up making it a 57-55 ballgame.
NM State surged for a 14-4 run, which included a 3-pointer from sophomore Abby Scott to take a 71-59 advantage with 8:59 left in regulation. The Aggies would hold on from that point forward to pick up the win and head to the semifinals taking on No. 1 seed Idaho at 1 p.m. (MT) on Friday, March 14.
Weber finished the afternoon with 19 points and 10 rebounds while adding two assists in 36 minutes of play. The Aggies as a team ended with a 43.1 percent field goal percentage after going 50 percent from the field in the second half. NM State out-rebounded the Broncs 47-45 with five Aggies marking five or more boards.
Records in the Tournament
Junior Danesia Williamson set a new school record for most free throws in a single game when she went 17-of-19 from the line. Williamson’s 17 free throws also breaking a 35-year-old school record for free throws in a game. The previous record of 16 was held by Caron Krueger and set back in 1979. The free-throw mark is also a tournament record.
The Williamson’s 37 points were just three points short of the NM State single-game record of 40 points, which was set by Aggie great Anita Maxwell against UC Irvine in 1995. It was a season high for the junior and takes the second-place spot in the record book. Her previous high of 36 is ties at the No. 3 spot with teammate Abby Scott. Williamson was also just seven points shy of the WAC record for single-game scoring.
Condolences for Head Coach Mark Trakh
The New Mexico State Athletics Department extends its sincere condolences to women’s basketball head coach Mark Trakh, on the passing of his mother, late Tuesday evening. Coach Trakh will not be with his team at the 2014 WAC Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. Assistant coach Tamara Inoue will step in as acting head coach.
The department asked that the family’s privacy be respected during this time. Fans wishing to send their well wishes to Coach Trakh can do so by sending those to the address below.
c/o Becky Veitch
New Mexico State University
Pan American Center
1810 E. University Ave.
Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001
About the Aggies
NM State is 11-19 this season and led by first team All-WAC honoree Danesia Williamson. Averaging 21.2 points a game this season, Williamson has five 30-plus point games to her name, including a career-high performance of 37 in the win over UTPA on Wednesday. The Aggies shoot 39 percent as a team and average 40 rebounds a game. Sophomore Sasha Weber averages just over 13 points a game. Defensively it is freshman Tyler Ellis that leads with 6.6 boards a game.
Aggies in the WAC Tournament
In the Trakh era, NM State is 2-2 in the WAC Tournament. In 2012, NM State went one-and-done, but came back to surprise people in 2013 by winning the play-in game and making a quarterfinals appearance against Seattle U. NM State led SU in the first half of that game, the team fell 77-53 to the No. 1 seeded Redhawks.
About No. 1 Seed Idaho
The Vandals ran through the regular conference season with a 15-1 record. The team was 23-8 all season and saw Stacey Barr named Player of the Year and head coach Jon Newlee named Coach of the Year. In conference play, the Vandals shot 43.5 percent, while holding their opponents to 32.5 percent.
Barr has led the team, averaging 19.7 points a game and starting all 16 WAC games. She is shooting 44 percent from the floor and putting up 8.6 boards a game. That also leads the Vandals defensively, but Ali Forde is also grabbing big numbers with 7.9 a game.
Idaho in the Tournament
Idaho ran past Chicago State in dominating fashion in the first round of the tournament with an 84-43 win. That set the team up for a six-game winning streak heading into the semifinals game with the Aggies. Five players scored in double figures with Christina Salvatore leading the way with 18. The team caused 15 turnovers and finished shooting 53 percent to CSU’s 30 percent. Idaho led CSU 54-16 at the half.
NM State vs. Idaho
Meeting 32 times in program history, Idaho holds a 23-9 record over the Aggies, which includes the two regular-season meetings. The Vandals handed NM State a 79-51 loss in Moscow early in WAC play before making the trip to NM State and battling for the 75-66 win. NM State led 31-26 at half of the second game and saw Williamson score her then-career high 33 points.
NM State vs. Grand Canyon Media Coverage
Live Audio: KSNM AM570 with Jay Sanderson or NMStateSports.com (subscription)
Live Video: www.WACSports.tv  (Championship game to be aired on ESPN3.com)
Live Stats: www.NMStateSports.com  (click on Audio/Video link)
Staying Connected #AggieUp
Want to stay connected with Aggie Athletics when you can’t make it to the Pan Am? Follow us on Twitter @NMStateAthletics and on Facebook at “NMSU Athletics” for the most up-to-date info on the games going on. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #AggieUp to get linked into the conversation.
Looking Back: Final Regular Season Game
NM struggled from 3-point range, shooting just 2-of-25 in the 66-55 loss to Grand Canyon to end the regular season, but saw junior Danesia Williamson score 28 on Thursday. The final game of the regular season brings the Aggies to 10-19 overall and 7-9 in league play heading into the WAC Tournament.
Williamson was 10-of-28 from the floor to lead NM State and all scorers in the game. She also tallied two assists, three steals and a block with seven rebounds. Freshman Brianna Freeman also helped out with 10 points and nine boards while finishing 5-of-9 on the night.
The Aggies shot 32 percent as a team and allowed the Antelopes to shoot 41 percent. NM State was narrowly out-rebounded by GCU 44-43, but held the Lopes with just two players scoring in double figures. The Aggies won the points off turnovers 14-8, while the teams evenly matched with 32 points in the paint.
NM State WAC Play
The Aggies went 7-9 in conference play for the 2013-2014 season. They hit at 37.6 percent from the field with a -1.2 scoring margin. Adding 221 total assists, NM State averages 13.8 assists per game and 41.2 rebounds per game.
The team is led by junior guard Danesia Williamson with 343 points averaging 21.4 points per game and assists with 78 on the season. Freshman forward Tyler Ellis leads in rebounds and field goals averaging 7.4 rebounds per game and hitting 56.4 percent from the field going 22-for-39 in conference play.
Around the WAC
Finishing the WAC with a 7-9 record, the Aggies are preparing for the WAC tournament where they received a fifth seed and will play the fourth seed, Texas-Pan American, 8-8 in WAC play. The Aggies split the season with Texas-Pan American, going 1-1.
Leading the Aggies is Danesia Williamson who is sitting third in the WAC in points per game with 21.4. Williamson also is second in assists per game with 4.88 and second in steals with 1.75 a game.
Sasha Weber leads the Aggies in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting .374 percent from beyond the arc. NM State is first in the WAC in 3-point field goals made with 256 on the season and fifth in 3-point percentage, shooting 41.2 percent. Weber is also third in the league for 3-pointers made, recording 46 on the season, while Abby Scott sits at second on the list, hitting 47 deep balls in WAC play.
The Aggies are third in scoring offense in the WAC, putting up 73.9 points a game. Helped by their rebounding offense, NM State is sitting at fourth on the list averaging 41.2 points off of 12.9 offensive rebounds a game, which is fourth in the WAC. On defense, the Aggies are third in the WAC in blocked shots, averaging 2.88 a game with 46 in WAC play