NMSU Women's Basketball Advances in WAC Tournament
New Mexico State women's basketball senior guard Jasmine Lowe posted season highs with 20 points and eight rebounds to help the sixth-seeded Aggies defeat seventh-seeded Hawai'i 71-59 inside the Orleans Arena Wednesday night during the first round of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) basketball tournament.
NM State trailed much of the first half but recovered for a one-point halftime lead of 27-26. The Aggies broke open the game early in the second half with a 14-4 run to lead 41-30 after a pair of three-point baskets from senior guard Danisha Corbett at the 16:27 mark.
The Aggies led by double-digits for much of the remainder of the game as they shot 61.5 percent from the floor on 16-of-26 shooting and also drained 7-of-10 attempts from long range in the second half. Lowe scored 12 of her 20 points after halftime and Corbett went a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc in the second half.
Lowe led four NM State players in double figures. Junior forward Tabytha Wampler posted 18 points and nine rebounds. Corbett added 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc and junior guard Kaitlyn Soto recorded 11 points with her sixth double-digit effort of the year.
The Aggies shot 40.6 percent in the game while Hawai'i shot 36.8 percent from the field. NM State finished 8-of-20 from long range after making just 1-of-10 before the half. UH struggled shooting from beyond the arc at 2-of-16. The Wahine won the battle of the boards 46-37. The Aggies outscored Hawai'i 44-33 in the second half.
With the win, NM State improves to 14-17 overall and will face No.3 seed Utah State in a Thursday night quarterfinal matchup at 9:30 p.m. MT in Orleans Arena.
The Aggies are now 2-0 against Hawai'i in the WAC tournament and 7-5 overall. NM State will meet Utah State for the first time in the WAC tourney on Thursday. Hawai'i finishes the season at 11-19 after the loss.
"I thought our players distributed the ball well tonight," said head coach Darin Spence. "Early on we were trying too hard and I think we were a little nervous but we settled down in the second half. I thought Kaitlyn Soto played the best game of her career tonight for us."
Hawai'i scored the first five points of the game before a bucket by Wampler got the Aggies on the board after four scoreless minutes. The Rainbow Wahine continued to build an 11-4 lead with 13:15 to go before the break.
Soto came into the game and nailed a three-point basket to cut the UH lead to four at the 12:38 mark. Both teams played even over the three minutes before the Wahine stretched the lead to its largest at 18-9 with 9:27 left before the break.
NM State's offense rallied with a 12-2 run over the next 4:30 of the game behind five points from Wampler, five more from Soto and a pair of fouls shots from Lowe. The run gave the Aggies their first lead of the game at the 4:53 mark of 21-20.
UH responded with a 6-0 run to take back the lead at 26-21 with 2:48 on the clock, but NM State answered with a 6-0 rally of its own to end the half after a pair of free throws by junior Erica Sanchez and two buckets by Lowe giving the Aggies a one-point edge at the half, 27-26.
NM State shot 27.3 percent in the half while UH shot 44.4 percent. The Aggies made 10 percent from long range on 1-of-10 shooting. The Wahine made just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc. Hawai'i led NM State on the boards 24-18. The Aggies forced 10 turnovers in the half and made all eight attempts from the foul line; UH was just 1-of-6 from the charity stripe.
The Aggies opened up the second half on a 14-4 run over the first four minutes to take a commanding 41-30 lead and never looked back. Two treys from Corbett and four tallies from Wampler capped the NM State rally.
Hawai'i could not recover from the Aggie run and could get no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Two Rainbow Wahine posted double-double efforts in the game. Breanna Arbuckle totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds and Kamilah Jackson scored 11 and grabbed 10 boards for Hawai'i.
In the quarterfinals of the WAC Women's Basketball Tournament Thursday, the sixth-seeded Aggies will face third-seeded Utah State at 9:30 p.m. MT inside Orleans Arena.