The New Mexico State women’s basketball team won its 18th-straight Western Athletic Conference home game, 71-63, over UT Rio Grande Valley on Saturday afternoon from the Pan American Center.
The Aggies established strong defense from the get-go, opening the game on a 12-0 run and not allowing UTRGV to score until the 3:52 mark in the first. NM State forced turnovers on the Vaqueros first five possessions. However, UT Rio Grande Valley made two three pointers and cut the NM State lead to 16-8 at the end of the first. New Mexico State forced 10 turnovers in the period.
The Vaqueros then further cut the Aggies’ lead to six after a pair of free throws to start the second quarter before Brooke Salas hit a jumper and Gia Pack made two threes and a lay in to extend the lead to 26-11 and force a Vaquero timeout with 7:11 in the half.
Although, UT Rio Grande Valley continued to battle and did not let the deficit grow past 15. With NM State leading 32-17 after a basket from Dominique Mills with 4:03, UTRGV closed the half on a 9-2 run and the Aggies led by eight at the break, 34-26. NM State forced 16 turnovers, and scored 16 points off those turnovers, in the half while giving up just five. Gia Pack scored 11 points in the half while Dominique Mills added 10.
The second half started the opposite of the first half with UTRGV going on a 9-1 run, after Salas made the opening shot of the third, and the Aggies led by just two, 37-35, at the media timeout with 4:48. The two sides then went back-and-forth with NM State holding a 49-44 advantage after three quarters of play.
The fourth quarter saw Pack and Salas take over, scoring 17 of NM State’s first 18 fourth-quarter points including back-to-back threes from Pack. New Mexico State extended its lead to 17, 67-50, with 3:04 to play. However, the Vaqueros came storming back and cut the Aggie lead to 67-61 with 37.4 seconds left. From there, Dominique Mills and Kalei Atkinson sunk four clutch free throws for the final score of NM State 71, UTRGV 63.
Pack led the Aggies with 22 points including four three-pointers to along with six rebounds while Dominique Mills poured in a career-high 19 points on 7-12 shooting from the floor. Salas recorded her 12th double-double of the season (19 points, 11 rebounds) and moved into a fifth-place tie on the NM State all-time scoring list with Vicki Evans at 1,656 career points.
As a team, the Aggies put together another solid defensive performance, turning the Vaqueros over 25 times on the afternoon. NM State shot 24-63 (38.1 percent) from the field but were outrebounded by UTRGV 44-33.
The New Mexico State women’s basketball team returns to action when it travels to take on Kansas on City on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. (MT) before heading to the Windy City to take on Chicago State on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 11 a.m. Both Aggie road games are set to be livestreamed thanks to the WAC Digital Network.