SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – The NM State women’s basketball team opened their stay in Puerto Rico with a battle against Kim Mulkey’s LSU squad. A halftime lead for the Aggies was erased in the final two quarters as the Aggies fell 52-72 inside Coliseo Roberto Clemente.
Bigue Sarr finished with a team-high 13 points and pulled down four rebounds. Soufia Inoussa chipped in 11 points. Molly Kaiser finished with nine of the Aggies’ 24 bench points and also added a steal in the afternoon bout.
The Aggies showed no signs of San Juan distraction in the first quarter as they shot 7-of-14 to lead the Tigers by a pair at the break. After a back-and-forth start to put the score at 5-5 with 7:30 to go in the first, a second-chance bucket from Bigue Sarr sparked a nine-point NM State run. Despite LSU’s size advantage, Sarr was dominant early as she poured in eight points to lead all scorers in the first quarter. The Aggies ended the quarter up 17-15 as LSU finished the quarter on a 10-3 run to close the gap before the second.
The game flow of the second period look similar to the first as a Kayla Watkins triple highlighted an early-quarter scoring spurt to put the Aggies up 27-21 with 5:17 to go in the second. Taylor Donaldson also made an impact on the game in the second quarter when Mel Isbell found the sophomore for a three-pointer that put the Aggies ahead 30-26 with 2:44 remaining in the half. Eventually, the Aggies carried a one-point advantage into the locker room, leading 30-29.
The Aggies looked fresh to start the third, as a Jade Bradley fast-break bucket capped off a four-point scoring streak for the Aggies, putting them up 34-31 with 8:32 to go in the third. NM State continued to respond to the LSU haymakers as they maintained a lead until the 5:50 mark in the quarter. A six-point Tiger run was then put to a halt by Kayla Watkins’ second triple of the game, putting the Aggies back to within three points with just over two minutes remaining in the third period. Grace Colaivalu and Molly Kaiser each connected on a pair of free throws toward the end of the quarter before LSU knocked down a three-pointer at the horn to carry a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Soufia Inoussa continued the trend at the charity stripe as she hit a free throw to open the scoring for the Aggies in the fourth. The Tigers would then go on a nine-point run to open up a 62-47 advantage with 5:48 remaining in the contest. A Bigue Sarr layup and a Molly Kaiser deep ball would be the final Aggie points of the evening as the final score read 59-79 in favor of the Tigers.
Tomorrow, the Aggies will square off against Tennessee Tech in the conclusion of the San Juan Shootout. Tip-off is set for 12:30 p.m. (MT) and will be broadcast on FloHoops.