The Aggie women's basketball team dropped its second consecutive rivalry game falling 68-44 to UNM. The trouble for New Mexico State this season has been the inability to score for long stretches and falling behind big early. Last night was no exception as the Aggies trailed 10-9, 17-3 and 35-16 before heading into halftime down by 17 points. The Aggies made a couple of small runs at the Lobos in the second half cutting the lead down to as few as 14 points and with 11:13 left to play and a chance to cut the lead to 12 or 11 (with a three pointer), Stephanie Gilbreath threw a lazy pass that was intercepted by UNM's Caroline Durbin who took it in for a layup to push the lead back to 16. The Aggies got no closer than 15 points the rest of the way. Sometimes a single play can turn the tide of a game and that was a big play in the game. Had the Aggies been able to cut the lead to 12 or 11 at that point they may have been able to continue to chip away at the lead and perhaps mount a late comeback as they've done a couple times this season.
It did not help that the Aggies' two best players, Stephanie Gilbreath and Daniesha Williamson, combined for just 14 points on 4-of-25 shooting (16 percent) and were a woeful 1-for-13 from three point distance.
It's a short turnaround for the Aggie women as they'll face the 'Roos from UMKC on Friday evening.
The Aggie men's basketball team is back in action tonight as they hope to pull off the upset in Round II of the Rio Grande Rivalry. The Aggies dropped the first round losing by 15 points at The Pit. Aggie seniors Bandja Sy and Tyrone Watson had subpar games, similar to the performance from Gilbreath and Williamson last night for the Aggies in their loss to UNM. The senior duo combined to go 2-for-19 from the field and 1-for-8 from the three point arc. It's unlikely that the Aggie seniors will struggle like that again in tonight's game, however, that's not the only reason the Aggies lost to UNM this past Saturday. The Aggies need to do a better job guarding the Lobo three point shooters. UNM went 7-for-13 from deep and in the past two games, both double-digit Lobo wins, the Lobos have shot a combined 19-for-37 good for 51.3 percent.
Turnovers, which have been an issue for the Aggies this season were kept to a minimum at just eight, however, the Lobos were highly efficient in converting those Aggie mistakes into points, 17 of them to be exact. Even though the turnover number was low the Lobos also benefitted from some poor shot selection by the Aggies which in the eyes of most coaches is just as bad as a turnover. Bad shot selection can lead to poor floor balance on the defensive end and runouts or easy baskets for the opponents. Better shot selection will certainly be needed tonight from the Aggies.
The Aggies also need to do a better job avoiding the Lobo block. UNM had a season-high 11 blocks in Saturday's game it was also one of their highest point totals in several seasons and tying for the highest total under Steve Alford. Alex Kirk, the Lobos' 7'0" center had a career-high with five of the blocks but the more worrisome number was the career-high four blocks put up by Lobo guard Hugh Greenwood.
Can the Aggies put together a complete game tonight and hand UNM their first loss of the season? It's certainly possible but once again as was the case on Saturday, the Aggies have to play above their average and hold UNM below their averages. The Aggies need to get a big game from one of their supporting cast, perhaps Kevin Aronis who has been pretty silent this season but has made 7-of-15 three point attempts in four games at the Pan Am this season.
Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tip-off and can be seen on AggieVision and ESPN3.com. Radio coverage is also available via Aggie Access (subscription required).
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