LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team erased a nine-point deficit with 27 seconds left, but couldn’t come up with the game-tying bucket in a 72-69 loss to Pepperdine at the Pan American Center on Wednesday night.
Aggies freshman Shania Harper posted the first double-double of her career with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
“When we would cut close, we’d have a defensive breakdown,” said NMSU head coach Brooke Atkinson. “Until we get better offensively, any defensive breakdown is going to be big. We just have to continue to gel on both ends of the floor.”
Pepperdine (2-2, 0-0 WCC) made two three-pointers to start the game and took an early 6-0 lead. After a bucket from Adenike Aderinto to open the scoring for NMSU (1-4, 0-0 WAC), the Waves quickly hit another three for a 9-2 lead at the 7:36 mark. The teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter with the Waves leading 22-17 through the first quarter of play.
Amanda Soderqvist opened the second quarter with a three, but Pepperdine’s Malia Bambrick knocked down a three of her own at the other end to make it 25-20 Waves. After Pepperdine extended its lead to eight, Soderqvist knocked down another three and the Aggies trailed 31-26 with five minutes to play in the half. The Aggies kept it close for the remainder of the second but trailed 36-28 at halftime.
After the break, the Waves caught fire from deep and extended their lead to 48-24 at the 5:04 mark in the third quarter. Pepperdine stayed ahead and led 50-36 before an Adrianna Henderson layup sparked a 14-6 Aggie run to end the quarter. Harper, Aaliyah Prince and Soufia Inoussa combined for 12 points during the run with an Inoussa layup at the horn cutting the deficit to six at the end of the third quarter.
NMSU continued its run to start the fourth as Rodrea Echols hit a transition three before Harper made a put-back and the Aggies trailed by just one, 56-55, two minutes into the quarter. However, the Waves bounced back and held a steady lead, leading by nine with 27 seconds left.
Then, Harper made two free throws before Inoussa stole a pass and fed Prince who made a layup to make it 72-67. After a Pepperdine timeout, Inoussa came up with another steal and made a fast-break layup to make it a three-point game with 14 seconds left. Gia Pack then came up with another Aggie steal with 10 seconds to go but an Aggie three with five seconds left rimmed out and NM state fell, 72-69.
Harper led the way with her first-ever double-double as the freshman scored 14 points on 6-8 shooting to go with 12 boards. Inoussa, another freshman, scored 13 while Prince added 12. NMSU shot an even 50-percent from the floor while the Waves shot 46.3-percent. However, Pepperdine made nine threes to just four for the Aggies.
New Mexico State will travel to El Paso for the Battle of I-10 against rival UTEP on Saturday, November 23, at 7 p.m.