NM State comes up just short in second OT matchup against UTEP this season


Aaliyah Prince fouls out, but goes off for 25 points on 67% shooting.

In what was a case of apparent déjà vu, the New Mexico State women’s basketball team took regional rival UTEP to overtime for the second time this season after opening the campaign in El Paso just eight days ago, suffering the same fate as their first matchup in a tight 81-73 loss. 

After surging to force overtime in the loss on Nov. 25, the Aggies seemed to have a better hold of tonight’s showdown, leading for a majority of the night until a fourth quarter push that extended into the added period went UTEP’s way.

The Aggies started off strong, finishing the first quarter with 24 points on 47% shooting from the floor while holding the Miners to just 17. As usual, Aaliyah Prince led the way, erupting for 14 points in the first quarter alone.

Prince was getting whatever she wanted from the floor throughout the game, but foul trouble capped what was shaping up to be a career outing, with the rising star only managing to play 25 minutes, missing key stretches of the game.

Still, the Aggies came out of the gate strong in the second quarter, extending their lead to eight at the half while taking advantage of UTEP mistakes, forcing 13 turnovers from UTEP and scoring 13 points off the turnovers. 

UTEP trimmed the NM State lead to 54-48 heading into the fourth, prompting a back and forth effort that saw neither side come out on top in regulation.

NM State slipped into a five-minute scoring drought late in the fourth allowing UTEP to go on a 9-0 run. Finally, Amanda Soderqvist hit a three from deep to break the drought and take back the lead late in the fourth. UTEP missed two crucial free throws to tie the game as the Aggies led 63-61 with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter. 

The teams would trade buckets, with the Aggies holding a lead into the final seconds of the game, but a Nana Sule foul on UTEP’s Avery Crouse set up the singular made free throw that set up overtime.

The back and forth continued, but turnovers abad fouls let things get out of hands for head coach Brooke Atkinson’s side in the end. Both teams had four players score double figures, with Prince leading all at 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

The Aggies aren’t slated to play again until they open the WAC season against Dixie State on Jan. 8, but in this era of uncertainty, are likely to take the court again well before conference play begins, and the sooner the better for NM State, who would like nothing more than to get back in the win column with a quick turnaround that helps the squad put these two early season rivalry letdowns behind them.

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