The New Mexico State women’s basketball team dominated both sides of the ball as it rolled to a 101-51 victory over in-state foe Northern New Mexico in the Pan American Center on Monday night.
“It’s more about us,” said head coach Brooke Atkinson when asked about her team’s win. “Defensively, offensively maybe trying some combinations that we don’t always try or some defenses that I haven’t really felt comfortable with in the close games. But I’d say the biggest thing is just maintaining our focus and just maintaining that same intensity regardless of who we play.”
The Aggies started the game with a 15-4 run that included six points from Brooke Salas and 2017-18 NJCAA All-American Adenike Aderinto scoring her first points in the Crimson and White. After Northern New Mexico made a free throw with 4:46 to make it 15-5 NM State, the Aggies finished the quarter on a 12-3 run for a 27-8 lead after one. New Mexico State shot 52.2% from the floor in the period while forcing 11 turnovers.
New Mexico State’s pressure continued to cause problems for the Eagles in the second quarter, forcing another 10 turnovers in the period. Along with its defense, the Aggies started the second on a 14-1 run to extend its lead to 43-9 before the media timeout at 5:42. NM State continued to dominate on both ends of the floor and took a 52-17 lead into halftime. Aaliyah Prince led the Aggies with 11 at the half while Salas and Dominique Mills added eight each. New Mexico State shot 51.7% from the field in the first half and forced 21 Eagle turnovers.
The second half was more of the same as NM State started the half on an 11-0 run to extend its lead to 63-17 at the halfway mark of the third quarter. The Aggies then took a 77-26 lead into the fourth quarter behind an 11-point, 13 rebound double-double from Salas.
In the fourth quarter, Kalei Atkinson got hot, scoring 14 points including four threes, to propel NM State to a 93-37 lead at the media timeout. From there, Aggies closed out the game strong to earn a 101-51 win at home. This was the first time NM State scored 100 or more points since Jan. 7, 2017 against Chicago State, a 100-63 home win. It was also the first the Aggies won by 50 or more since taking down Western New Mexico 85-28 on Dec. 31, 2016.
Five different Aggies scored in double figures, led by Prince and Atkinson with 18 each, a career-high for both players. Adenike Aderinto dropped 11 in her debut for New Mexico State while Brooke Salas (11 points, 13 rebounds) and Gia Pack (17 points, 10 rebounds) recorded their second and third double-doubles of the season respectively. Pack was only two assists shy of recording a triple-double. Dominique Mills added 10 points for the first time NM State had five players with 10 or more points since Feb. 24, 2018 against Kansas City.
New Mexico State’s defense was also excellent all night as it forced 29 turnovers while making steals on 23 of those and holding NNMC to just 34.0% shooting from the field. The Aggies out-rebounded the Eagles 44-19 and made 54.8% (40-73) of their field goals on the night.
The NM State women’s basketball team now heads north to take on rival New Mexico in the Battle of I-25 on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m. (MT).