The New Mexico State women’s basketball team cruised to a 70-38 victory over UT Permian Basin behind an outstanding defensive performance in Tuesday night’s season-opener.
The Falcons (0-1) were able to stay close early, with NM State (1-0) holding just a 5-3 lead two minutes into the game. However, sophomore Aaliyah Prince gave the Aggies a spark off the bench and made back-to-back buckets to extend the lead to 9-3. Including Prince’s two buckets, the Aggies closed the quarter on a 16-2 run to take a 21-5 lead into the second period. NM State held the Falcons to just 2-12 shooting from the field in the quarter.
The second quarter saw UTPB cut into the Aggies’ lead at 23-11 before Dominique Mills knocked down two free throws with 7:40 left in the half to extend the lead 25-11. UT Permian Basin again cut the lead to 12 at 27-15, but New Mexico State got a shot in the paint from Rodrea Echols and two free throws from Nana Sule to extend the lead to 31-15. From there, the Aggies locked in defensively, only allowing four more points in the quarter and headed into the break with a 38-19 lead.
New Mexico State shot 44.8% from the field in the first half while its athleticism and length caused the Falcons to shoot just 8-27 (29.6%) from the field. Echols led the Aggies with nine points at the half in her debut in the Crimson and White.
After the break, the Aggies attacked the paint, getting an early layup from Gia Pack followed by a jumper in the paint, layup and two free throws from Brooke Salas to extend the lead to 46-19 with 7:55 in the quarter. Pack and Salas would combine for 19-of-20 Aggie points in the third quarter and NM State took a 58-29 advantage into the fourth.
The fourth quarter saw NM State put on a defensive clinic as they held UT Permian Basin to just 2-12 shooting in the final period and the Aggies claimed a 70-38 decision on opening night.
New Mexico State finished the game shooting 26-59 (44.1%) from the field while holding the Falcons to just 26.9% shooting on the night. NM State forced 27 turnovers, the most since forcing 20 at home against Seattle U on Feb. 18, 2018.
Salas led the Aggies in scoring with 22 points on 10-15 shooting while she passed Jeanette Feaster for 13th on the NM State all-time scoring list and now stands at 1,324 points in her career. Pack was next on the scoring list as she notched the eighth double-double of her career with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Prince nearly notched a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds while Echols scored nine points and dished out three assists in her Aggie debut. Sule, also in her debut in the Crimson and White, scored six points and grabbed eight rebounds while freshman Tayelin Grays knocked down a three in the fourth quarter for her first career points.
NM State is back in action when it travels to Kalamazoo, Mich., to take on Western Michigan on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. (MT). Sunday’s game against the Broncos will be streamed live on ESPN +.