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Soto Matches Career High in Aggie Victory

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Jan. 1) – New Mexico State senior guard Kaitlyn Soto matched her career high of 17 points to lead the Aggie women’s basketball team to a 61-53 victory over Shaw inside the Pan American Center Sunday afternoon.

Soto sparked a first-half rally to put distance between the two teams with a pair of early threes. NM State was able to go into halftime up 27-17 as a result. The Aggies opened the second half on a 13-2 run but Shaw used a series of runs beginning midway through the stanza to cut the lead to single digits. The visiting Lady Bears cut the margin to eight but could not edge closer. The Aggies overcame a season-high 28 turnovers to hold on for the victory.

With her 17 tallies, Soto matched her previous career high set her freshman year against Nevada on Feb. 13, 2009. Senior forward Tabytha Wampler posted her fifth double-double of the season and 14th double dip of her career with 15 points and a game-high 11 boards. Sophomore Jasmine Rutledge also turned in a solid performance just one point shy of her career high point total and one board shy of a double-double at 13 points and nine rebounds.

“I thought we worked hard tonight to fight for a win,” said head coach Mark Trakh. “But we need to do a better job holding on to the ball. We just had too many turnovers tonight. We have to keep improving. We have an opportunity to get our second road win Wednesday before conference play begins next week.”

NM State improved to 3-10 with the win, its second victory at home this season. Shaw dropped to 5-5 this season after the loss.

The Aggies shot 36 percent (17-47) in the game while Shaw shot 32 percent (19-59) from the field. NM State won the battle of the boards 51-31. Neither team shot particularly well from the line as NM State made 68 percent (23-34) and Shaw 65 percent (15-23). The Aggies committed a season-high 28 turnovers in the game while forcing 15 miscues by the Lady Bears.

NM State senior forward Tabytha Wampler scored the first basket of the game. Shaw tied it up shortly after but the offenses stalled in the first four minutes, tied 2-2 at the first media timeout.

Shaw took its only lead of the game at 3-2 after a free throw make before Aggie senior guard Kaitlyn Soto sparked a run. Soto knocked down back-to-back threes to kick-start an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to put NM State up 13-3.

Aggie senior Kelsie Rozendaal kept the home team ahead with five points over the next four minutes as NM State built its largest lead of the half at 17-5.

Shaw rallied with six of the next eight points to cut the Aggie lead to 19-11. But the Lady bears would get no closer in the half as NM State maintained its cushion heading into halftime, leading 27-17.

The Aggies shot 26.9 percent (7-26) in the first 20 minutes while holding Shaw to 21 percent (6-29) from the floor. NM State led 29-17 on the boards in the first half. The Aggies went 11-of-14 from the charity stripe while SU was 5-of-8. NM State committed 12 turnovers and forced eight Lady Bear miscues in the half. Shaw’s bench led the NM State reserves 10-6 in the first.

NM State opened the second half on a 13-2 run behind four apiece from Soto and Wampler to lead 40-19. The Aggies built their largest lead, 43-21, at the 12:31 mark of the second half. But Shaw used a 9-2 run to climb back into the game at 45-32 midway through the stanza.

The Aggies led by 16, 50-34, at the under-eight minute timeout. Shaw used an 8-2 run followed shortly by a 9-3 rally to cut the NM State advantage to eight points, 59-51, with just 1:16 remaining before the Aggies closed out the win.

Senior forward Kyria Buford led Shaw with 12 points while junior center Aslea Williams led the Lady Bears with eight rebounds to go with five points.

NM State plays mid-week at Missouri-Kansas City for its final non-conference road contest. The Aggies and Kangaroos tip at 6 p.m. Wednesday inside the Swinney Recreation Center. The game will be broadcast live on KSNM AM 570 with play-by-play from Kyle Doperalski.

Source: NMSU Athletics

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