BRONX, N.Y. – Brooke Salas led the NM State charge on Wednesday at Rose Hill Gym with a career-high 18 points as the Aggies bounced back with a 70-51 victory over Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the final game of the Fordham Holiday Classic.
“I felt that with the rest, the kids got their legs back underneath them,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “It was a great way to bounce back from what was probably their worst defeat of the year. I was happy with the way the kids bounced back.”
The win put NM State at 10-3 on the year, the fourth-straight year with double-digit wins under Trakh, with one more non-conference game left to play before Western Athletic Conference play begins.
“Now we get ready for one more game,” Trakh said. “Hopefully we’ll have 11 [wins] before we start league. You know 11-3 in non-conference considering Moriah Mack missed the first eight games, I’ll take it!”
The first half was a game of runs between the two teams. Salas started NM State’s 13-0 run when she nailed a triple from the top of the key and was capped off by Sasha Weber’s jumper.
“I liked the way Brooke [Salas] came out of her slump tonight,” Trakh said of her career-high night. “She had a great game. I’m also happy with Sasha Weber, who was named to the all-tournament team. She only had two points in the second game, but that shows you how important she is to our team.”
However, Texas A&M Corpus Christi (3-8) responded with a 14-0 run of their own capped off by Brittany Mbamalu’s 3-pointer free-throw line extended to put the Islanders on top 20-16 a minute into the second quarter.
The Aggies battled back to take a 30-26 lead into the intermission after a Salas’ put-back found the bottom of the net as time expired and never looked back.
After starting the second half on a 6-2 run, NM State and A&M-Corpus Christi had trouble finding the bottom of the net. Leading 44-35 with 1:10 left in the frame, Moriah Mack started a 10-2 to end the quarter and gave the Aggies a 54-35 lead through three quarters of play.
Brianna Freeman, who finished with 12 points, gave NM State its largest lead of the game, 58-37, when she connected on both free throws at the 8:04 mark.
The Islanders would get as close as 64-49 with 2:27 left on the clock in the final quarter, but there was nothing A&M-Corpus Christi could do as time expired.
NM State held a 26-14 edge in points in the paint and converted 28 Texas A&M Corpus Christi turnovers into 27 points.
POSTGAME NOTES: The Aggies have now reached double-digit wins in four out of the five years since Trakh took over, missing the mark in only his first season…NM State is 5-1 so far when its opponent scores first…designated as the home team, the Aggies wore their home whites and made it 7-1 when playing as the home team…Brandee Walton recorded her first point of the 2015-16 season when she sank the second of her two free throws with 54 seconds left in the game…William tied her season-high in steals with four today…Mack’s five steals today was a new career-high for the junior…The Aggies have forced their opponents into committing 20-plus turnovers in four of their last five games and 8-of-13 games this season…NM State is now 4-0 when holding opponents under 60 points…Aggies finished with 19 steals on Wednesday, the last time they had 15-plus steals was at San Jos State.