New Mexico State women’s basketball team held the Western Athletic Conference-leading Idaho Vandals to a close game throughout but eventually fell 75-66 on Thursday, Feb. 6 at the Pan American Center. The Aggies move to 4-5 in WAC play and the Vandals stay atop the league with a 9-0 record.
Junior guard Danesia Williamson improved on her career high with 33 points on the night. She also finished with five rebounds, three assists and a steal. Sophomore Sasha Weber helped out with 13 points and nine rebounds. She was just one board shy of a double-double but had three steals and two assists.
The team shot 34 percent from the floor and just 24 percent from range. Idaho shot a similar 35 percent as a team but found success from beyond the arc with 39 percent. The Aggies saw 20 points come from inside the paint and had 10 second-chance points, but the Vandals out-rebounded NM State 51-46.
“I thought we did some good things today, but we just have to be more consistent,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “Our young kids are improving with every game, but we need more help from people. We have to be able to answer back when a team steps up in the second half like Idaho did.”
Idaho took an early 9-3 lead over the Aggies after Williamson put the Aggies on the board with a bucket from deep. The Vandals scored two more off free throws before sophomore Abby Scott drove in for a layup inside the paint.
The Aggies went on a small seven-point run in the middle of the half and kept the game close near the 10-minute mark. NM State took its first lead of the game as Weber sank a three. NM State went up on the Vandals 18-14 before Idaho was able to score again.
NM State kept a lead over the WAC-leading Vandals as the teams traded points with the Aggies holding a three-point lead with 6:53 on the clock. Both teams were scoreless for the next three minutes, but NM State took a seven-point lead (31-24) in the final minutes with the help of nine points from Williamson. The half ended with NM State up 31-26 as Idaho’s Connie Ballestero hit a jump shot with less than 30 seconds on the clock.
At the half, the Aggies shot 34 percent as a team, while Idaho shot just 23 percent. Williamson tallied 17 points in the first 20 minutes and Weber led the team with six rebounds, aiding in the team’s 26 boards. NM State had already collected 12 points in the paint, while holding the Vandals to four.
The teams traded baskets early with Idaho picking up its first lead with just over 15 minutes on the clock. The advantage was short lived as layups from Weber and Williamson put the Aggies back ahead 41-39. The Aggie duo helped NM State with the next few baskets, including a three by Weber but back-to-back three’s put the Vandals ahead of NM State 50-46 near the 10-minute mark.
NM State and the Vandals exchanged points with Idaho going up 61-52. Both teams hit free shots in next few minutes, keeping the point exchange consistent until Williamson and freshman Brianna Freeman helped close the gap to 65-59 with less than five minutes to play.
Deep shots by the Vandals put them up by 10 after hitting a layup and a three. Williamson drove in for a layup inside and picked up a free throw in the process. With the Aggies down 71-64 with 1:56 on left in the game, Idaho dropped two free shots and Williamson moved in for an open shot with less than 30 seconds. The game ended with a pair of buckets from the line by Idaho for the 75-66 win over NM State.
The Aggies continue at the Pan American Center hosting Seattle U on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.