Aggies rebound, hold off TAMU-CC in women’s hoops

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Aggies rebound, hold off TAMU-CC in women’s hoops

Jeneva Toilolo and the Aggies improve to 2-2 on the year with the win over Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.

Jeneva Toilolo and the Aggies improve to 2-2 on the year with the win over Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.

Zack Jimenez

Jeneva Toilolo and the Aggies improve to 2-2 on the year with the win over Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.

Zack Jimenez

Zack Jimenez

Jeneva Toilolo and the Aggies improve to 2-2 on the year with the win over Texas A&M - Corpus Christi.

The New Mexico State women’s basketball team were able to stave off defeat against an upset-hungry Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, topping the Islanders 70-61 in an important bounceback game for the Aggies.

After dropping their last game to Rio Grande rival New Mexico, NMSU (2-2) got off to a shaky start, falling behind early to the Islanders. Even when they did claim a lead, the Aggies struggled to take control of the game until the fourth quarter, but managed to make the necessary plays when they mattered most. Junior guard Brooke Salas went off for 23 points, including nine in a pivotal late third quarter run that claimed the lead for New Mexico State for good.

“I didn’t tell her anything special, she’s just a great player. She’s got that instinct,” Head Coach Brooke Atkinson said when asked about the stellar performance of Salas. “I think she puts a lot of pressure on herself but she’s so talented and a really smart player. She lets the game come to her and continues to do that consistently every night.”

The trio of Salas, sophomore forward Gia Pack and senior guard Zaire Williams were the major contributors for the NMSU offense, accounting for 51 of New Mexico State’s 70 points, with all three taking over and carrying the load at a different point in the game. That kind of star power is huge come tournament time.

The Aggies had to overcome getting out-rebounded on the offensive glass by a massive 16-7 margin, something that was a result of NMSU switching to a more effective zone defense that held TAMU-CC to 35 percent shooting from the field but also allowed 11 second chance points. Atkinson acknowledged how putting a body on somebody to box out is more difficult in a zone, but limiting those chances is still something that will be addressed.

New Mexico State was solid from the field, shooting 48 percent themselves and canning 10 of 20 threes throughout the game, but the bulk of their offense came inside, with 28 of the team’s points being scored in the paint compared to only 14 for TAMU-CC (2-3).

“A lot of that came from getting steals defensively or getting rebounds and pushing — just being aggressive downhill,” Atkinson said, addressing the team’s attacking of the basket. “Any time you can get our post players or Brooke or Gia in the paint, they’ll have that mismatch.”

Atkinson and the Aggies will take the court again Friday afternoon in El Paso when they face Texas Southern for their first game in the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic.

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