LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The rematch of the 2019 Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship game lived up to the hype.
Adrianna Henderson flipped in a layup with 0.2 seconds remaining in overtime and Gia Pack’s hot play continued as the New Mexico State women’s basketball team survived UT Rio Grande Valley in overtime, 76-75, at the Pan American Center on Thursday night. Pack scored 26 points with 11 boards and is now averaging 27 points and 13.3 rebounds over the last three games.
The Aggies (7-12, 4-2 WAC) started fast and played lockdown defense to open a 19-9 lead through one quarter. NM State held UTRGV (8-11, 3-3) 3-13 shooting in the quarter while shooting 43.8-percent from the floor.
NM State quickly built a 24-9 lead after a pair of free throws from Soufia Inoussa and a Henderson three. However, the Vaqueros battled back and cut the lead to seven, 28-21, with 3:05 left in the half. Then, the Aggies held UTRGV to just two more points for the rest of the quarter and led 34-23 at the half. New Mexico State shot 44.8-percent in the first half and went a perfect 6-6 at the free throw line.
The third quarter began with the Aggies getting easy buckets in transition and opening up a 16-point lead, 42-26, at the 7:32 mark. UT Rio Grande Valley then ripped off an 18-6 run to end the third and tie the game at 48 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter turned into the Pack show as the senior started heating up from three. She scored 14 of NM State’s first 17 points of the quarter while sinking four three-pointers and the Aggies led 65-61 with three minutes to play. Then, as they had all game, the Vaqueros battled back and tied the game at 69 with 15 seconds left in regulation. Although NM State would get the last shot, Pack’s three at the buzzer and the game headed to overtime. Pack scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Pack stayed hot to start the overtime period and drilled a three in transition for a 72-69 Aggie lead. After UTRGV took a 73-72 lead, Tayelin Grays got to the rim and finished to give NM State a 74-73 with 1:51 to play. Then, both defenses locked in, with neither side scoring until the Vaquero’s Trelynn Tyler hit a free throw line jumper to give UTRGV a one-point lead with six seconds to play.
The Aggies then took a timeout to advance the ball and draw up a play. Out of the timeout, Henderson received the inbounds and Pack acted as decoy as Henderson got to the paint and flipped in the game-winner with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.
This was the third overtime played between the two schools in their last two meetings. NM State defeated UTRGV 76-73 in double overtime in the WAC Tournament championship in Las Vegas on March 16, 2019.
Pack continued to play well with her third-straight double-double of the year. The senior scored 26 points with 11 rebounds with a career-high six three-pointers made. Inoussa added 12 points and six boards. Along with hitting the game-winner, Henderson scored a season-high 11 points, grabbed a career-high nine rebounds and dished out five assists.
NM State shot 30-70 from the floor including 7-19 from beyond the arc. The Aggies also dominated the glass, outrebounding the Vaqueros 48-34.
New Mexico State continues conference play with a road trip starting Thursday, Jan. 30, at 8 p.m. (MT) against CSU Bakersfield and wrapping up at GCU on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. Both games can be streamed live on the WAC Digital Network.