The New Mexico State women’s basketball team took care of business in its final non-conference game, 81-73, on the road against UC Santa Barbara at the Thunderdome on Sunday afternoon.
The first three minutes of game time were the Gia Pack show as the junior from Phoenix scored 10 points including two three-pointers for a 12-5 Aggie (8-5) lead. After UCSB (3-10) cut the lead to one at 14-13, Pam Wilmore, in her first game back from injury, made a finger roll followed by free throws from Aaliyah Prince and Dominique Mills pushed the NM State lead to 19-13. The Gauchos then made two free throws before a jumper from Stabresa McDaniel for a 21-15 Aggie lead after one.
The second quarter saw the Aggies start the period on a 6-0 run to open up a 27-15 lead with just under nine minutes until the half. After UC Santa Barbara cut the lead to nine, Gia Pack bookended a Gaucho three with two more threes of her own for a 35-23 lead with 4:47 until the half. With New Mexico State holding a 39-28 lead, Brooke Salas scored five straight points before a Gaucho lay in for a 44-30 lead at the half. Pack had 20 points at the half.
In the third period, the Gauchos started to whittle down NM State’s lead as they pulled within nine at 52-43 at the media timeout with 4:53 in the quarter. The Aggies struggled from the field as UCSB got hot and New Mexico State’s lead was cut to just 61-55 heading into the fourth quarter.
UC Santa Barbara then pulled within two at 69-67 after a three pointer with 3:52 to play. However, Pack made a floater before a layup from Prince and anther bucket from Pack extended the Aggie lead to 75-67. From there, Pack and Prince combined for six free throws to close out the 81-73 road win. Pack scored seven of the Aggies final eight points.
New Mexico State shot a scorching 57.7 percent from the field as they held UCSB to just 35.9 percent shooting. The Aggies also outrebounded the Gauchos 35-32 on the afternoon.
Pack poured in a season-high 29 points including four three-pointers as she shot 10-15 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line. Salas put together another monster performance, recording her seventh double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds while Prince added 10 points off the bench.
New Mexico State is back in action when it opens up conference play against Western Athletic Conference newcomer California Baptist on Thursday, Jan. 3, at 6 p.m. (MT).