The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Resilient Aggies battle against the Hilltoppers to secure 5th conference win 

David Castañeda
Guard Molly Kaiser looks for a teammate to pass the ball to as Sylena Peterson picks herself up from the ground. Feb. 17, 2024.

In a neck and neck battle, New Mexico State women’s basketball pulled out a 64-61 victory over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers thanks to a steadfast defensive performance. The Aggies kept the Lady Toppers to shooting only 29% from the arc and forced 20 turnovers. Junior guard Jaila Harding led the offensive effort with 16 points. The Aggies now move up to 5-5 in conference play and 11-13 overall to maintain a fifth overall standing in Conference USA.  

Snatching the opening tip, Harding quickly got to work and nailed a three-pointer to give the Aggies an early lead. Continuing the effort, junior guard Loes Rozing put up another three to propel the Aggies to an 8-2 lead.  

Refusing to back down, the Hilltoppers fought back with a 5-0 run before a scoring drought hit both sides. With just under two minutes left in the first quarter, off an assist from junior Tylie Jones, senior forward Ene Adams posted a layup, followed by another three-pointer from Harding to give the Aggies a 15-8 lead.  

Guard Sylena Peterson prepares to pass the ball. Feb. 17, 2024. (David Castañeda)

The Hilltoppers immediately retaliated in the second quarter with a jumper from Karris Allen before Harding knocked down her third three-pointer. Protecting the lead, Jones followed with her first basket of the match to put the Aggies up 20-15. Jones then became instrumental for her team recording nine points with a triple, two rebounds and an assist in the second quarter alone. With the help of Jones, the Aggies headed into halftime with a 30-26 lead after shooting 50% from beyond the arc compared to the Hilltopper’s 33%.  

After a Hilltopper layup, senior guard Molly Kaiser came in hot with a mid-range jumper to keep the Aggies at a three-point lead. After both sides continued to put up shots, the Aggies began to break away with a six-point lead after a Kaiser three-pointer from the left corner. The third quarter ended with another shot from Harding behind the arc for a 48-39 edge. 

The Aggies pulled their largest lead of the contest (50-40) after an assist from junior guard Sylena Peterson to Adams to start the fourth quarter. Continuing her dominant showing, Jones threw up a layup before the Hilltoppers started to chip away at their deficit. The Lady Toppers managed to get within one point before Harding sunk her free-throw attempts for the 64-61 win.  

Guard Sianny Sanchez-Oliver rushes through the Lady Toppers. Feb. 17, 2024. (David Castañeda)

Throughout the contest, the Aggies capitalized on their defense allowing them to focus on their shots with four players scoring in the double digits. Behind Harding with 16 points was Jones with 15, who also added her Division-I high of three assists and six free throws. The Aggies were strong on the free-throw line going 17-22 but only 7-17 on three-pointers.  

“We worked really well together, it was smooth offensively,” said Jones after the contest. “The team set each other up to get the best shots available.”  

The Aggies will now hit the road to Huntsville, Texas to face the Sam Houston State Bearkats for the second time this season. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, with coverage streamed on ESPN +. 

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About the Contributors
Juliana Trujillo, Sports Editor
Juliana Trujillo is in her first year as Sports Editor and third year with Student Media. She graduates this year with a bachelors in Journalism and Media Studies with minors in Sports Marketing as well as Social Media Management. She is excited for the opportunity of Sports Editor as a previous sports writer. She plans on attending graduate school and earning her masters in Strategic Communication with the hopes of working for the MLB. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outside, watching sports, and spending time with her friends. Her dog, Hazel, is also the mascot for The Round Up and is appreciated by the entire staff.
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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