NM State women’s basketball stumbles in crunch time against Miners

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NM State women’s basketball stumbles in crunch time against Miners

Aaliyah Prince drops 22 points in Wednesday night's loss to UTEP.

Aaliyah Prince drops 22 points in Wednesday night's loss to UTEP.

Aaliyah Prince drops 22 points in Wednesday night's loss to UTEP.

Aaliyah Prince drops 22 points in Wednesday night's loss to UTEP.

The early season rivalry would be a down-to-the-wire battle, but a deadly scoring drought would prove to doom the New Mexico State women’s basketball team, who fell to UTEP 63-57 to drop to 0-2 on the season.

Neither side was prolific on the offensive end, with UTEP and NM State shooting 39 and 33 percent respectively, but an 8-0 run in the final minutes of the game leveraged the Miners over the top against an NM State side that failed to score in the final three-plus minutes of the game.

“Before tonight, I don’t think we’ve taken more than 15 threes, so I think we kind of settled a little bit tonight,” head coach Brooke Atkinson said. “In other games we’ve been six of 15 and that’s perfect.”

NM State took care of the ball well enough and created to the tune of 10 assists, but it wasn’t enough in a game where they just couldn’t find their footing putting the ball in the basket.

“Ten assists, eleven turnovers, that should win the game, you know, you hold the opponents to 63 points,” Atkinson said.

The entirety of the game consisted of lead changes, with the two sides trading a one point lead at the start of each quarter. The Aggies trailed by as much as eight points in the third quarter, but fought back to tie things at 57 with a few minutes left.

“When we went on a run, we did a really good job of getting us back in the game. Just defending and pushing the basketball — we’re at our best, when we’re in transition,” Atkinson weighed in. “When it’s a tied game, we have to be extra sharp, and not rely so much on the three, I thought we settled for long shots instead of just getting to the rim and doing what really worked for us.”

Aaliyah Prince had herself yet another career night, putting together another 22 point perforce in the loss as she carves out an increasingly important role as NM State’s No. 2 option.

“She’s at her best in the open court, she can can just score the ball. Put her in position to score it,” Atkinson said. “We were getting great shots, you can’t ask for better shots, some of the shots we got at the end, you can’t ask for better ones.”

The week of rivalries continue this week for the Aggies this Sunday when they take on UNM.

“The whole point of the non-conference games is to get you prepared for conference. We don’t have an easy non-conference schedule, we just have to continue executing down the stretch,” Atkinson said. “What we have to do is continue to get better every single day, and we just have to learn from this rivalry game.”

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