Fourth-quarter collapse seals fate in lady Aggies’ loss to Southern Utah

David White

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February 9th marked the 24th game of the season for the NMSU women’s basketball team. The season showed improvement from the previous year, having already surpassed their previous win mark of 10 wins with a 12-11 record heading into this matchup. However, the Aggies looked to rebound their winning ways, coming off of a 5 point loss to Grand Canyon University at home, which ended a 3-game winning streak. Their next opponent would not hand them this win for free, as they faced the 13-8 Southern Utah University Thunderbirds, who also tout an impressive 9-1 record in Western Athletic Conference play.

The Aggies would win the opening tip and notch the first bucket of the game with an Ashlee Strawbridge jumper for the 2-0 lead early. This first score would be followed by a powerful push by the Aggies, as they led a 10-0 run in the first 5 minutes of the game, bolstering their lead to 12-2. The defense stayed stiff to finish the first quarter, holding on to a significant lead at 16-9 entering the second. NMSU came out firing once again entering the next quarter, rallying together with a quick 6-0 run. While the game was still competitive, the quick scoring surges by the Aggies continued to keep the game out of reach. Both teams trotted to the locker rooms at halftime with a 37-24 lead in favor of the Aggies.

A double-digit lead at the halfway mark would indicate a potential blowout in the making, but that would not be the case this time around. After a session of hydration, rest, and reassessing the game plan, the Thunderbirds came into the second half with a vengeance. Southern Utah’s Cherita Daugherty would begin to take over in the scoring department, tallying up 11 points in the fourth quarter alone. The Aggies continued to hold their own on offense, but their lead was clearly shrinking, moving into the final quarter at 48-43, with their halftime lead more than cut in half.

The pivotal fourth quarter would prove to be just that, determining the outcome of the game. Leading 48-43, things quickly got out of hand for the Aggies, as the Thunderbirds would find an absolute explosion of offense behind their star Cherita Daugherty. The NMSU offense and defense quickly collapsed in the fourth quarter, thanks in large part to a 10-point quarter by SU’s Daugherty, as she logged a 21-point second half. The Aggies would be outscored 20-8 in the final quarter, as the Aggies would taste defeat for the second week in a row, dropping this game 63-56 as the final buzzer rang.

The Aggies are now riding a 2-game losing streak after a 3-game winning streak and a promising start to the season. They will look to turn the tides once more in their next game in the same state, as they visit the 14-8 Utah Tech Trailblazers in St. George, Utah, on February 11.

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