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Impressive road win caps off regular season

MIAMI, Florida (KVIA) -- NM State entered the day as CUSA's No. 8 seed, staring down the barrel of an extra first round game against Sam Houston with undefeated MTSU awaiting. However, in one of their biggest wins of the season, the Aggies went into Miami and upset FIU, moving up to CUSA's No. 6 seed. The visitors dominated the glass, grabbing 38 rebounds and holding the Panthers to just 21. Offensively, three members entered double figures, led by Molly Kaiser's 20 points. With the win, NM State (12-17, 6-10) snapped a four-game skid and earned an additional two days off. Jody Adams and her squad will head straight to Huntsville, Ala., where they will take on FIU in a Thursday, March 14 rematch. 

First Quarter
NM State got the hot start it had been missing over the four-game losing streak. Riding their stellar defense, the Aggies held FIU to just seven points in the opening frame. While the Panthers only missed five shots, they attempted just eight. Meanwhile, the Aggies controlled the rebounding battle, hauling in 11 boards in 10 minutes. NM State put up 18 field goals, sinking seven. Fanta Gassama was the main engine on offense in the first frame, going 3-for-5 from the field. The road team held a 16-7 advantage after one quarter of play. 

Second Quarter
Jaila Harding started the quarter with NM State's only 3-pointer of the day. The trio of Harding, Ene and Molly Kaiser combined for 23 points in the first half. FIU had just 25 as a team; exactly half of their 50-point first half outburst versus UTEP on Thursday. Both teams sank seven of 13 field goals, but the Aggies' seven turnovers led to four FIU points. NM State nearly got off a buzzer-beating Tylie Jones triple in time, but still held a 31-25 advantage after 20 minutes. This number has been important in 2023-24, as the Aggies entered at 11-6 when on top at halftime, and are still 0-11 when trailing at the midway mark. 

Third Quarter
Four quick points from Ene Adams sparked the early second-half offense for NM State. Shortly after, a tough turnaround Jaila Harding jumper put the visitors ahead 39-30 at the media timeout. The Panthers responded with their best stretch of the afternoon, ripping off a 17-4 run. FIU held a slim 44-43 advantage with 10 minutes remaining. Starting the day, NM State was 0-14 when trailing or tied after the third quarter. 

Fourth Quarter
For the first time this season, NM State successfully executed and completed a second-half comeback. In an high-intensity fourth quarter, Fanta Gassama's hustle earned five of her game-high 13 rebounds and led to another two points. The Aggies put together their best consecutive 10 minutes on offense and showed a clear intention of getting into the paint repeatedly. The Aggies went to the free throw line a whopping 15 times in the fourth quarter alone; a mark that is higher than 13 entire games this year. NM State made the most of those opportunities, sinking 12 of them as part of a 16-for-19 day at the charity stripe. As has been the case most of this season, Molly Kaiser delivered in a clutch moment, delivering eight points in the fourth quarter. A late mid-range jumper from the senior beat the shot clock, putting the Aggies effectively out of reach for the Panthers at 60-52 with 1:34 remaining. From there, FIU played the foul game, but the Aggies continued to drain their free throws, leading to a final score of 65-56.

Numbers of Note

  • Molly Kaiser scored 20 or more points for the sixth time this season. 
  • Fanta Gassama recorded 13 rebounds in the win. She is now averaging 8.8 rebounds per game in her last 15 appearances and over 9.6 across the last eight games. 
  • In the fourth quarter, NM State attempted 15 free throws. That is equal or more than 13 other games this season. 
  • In total, the Aggies shot 19 free throws on the day. They have only recorded more than that mark (20+) four times this year. 
  • The Crimson & White made 16 foul shots today. The Aggies have only done that on one other occasion in 2023-24, when they went 17-for-22 in a home win over Western Kentucky. 
  • 21 total Panther rebounds were the fewest by a Division I opponent this season. Western NM only grabbed 19 at NM State in early December. 
  • The Aggies recorded more rebounds on the defensive end (26) than FIU had in the game (21). The only other time NM State accomplished this feat in 2023-24 was when Portland State recorded 22 rebounds, falling short of NM State's 23 defensive rebounds. 
  • The Aggies recorded as many turnovers in the second quarter as they did the entire second half (seven). 
  • None of the nine Aggies who played in the first half were negative in terms of +/-.

Head Coach Jody Adams, on the win: "I thought the team was locked in. People came in off the bench and didn't miss a beat. We knew our responsibilities. I thought we did a great job of taking care of the ball in the second half. We won the rebounding war, which has been really important for us. This [FIU] team is very athletic. They can make plays off their defense and off the bounce offensively. We just had some really, really big stops, in the fourth quarter especially. We made some really big shots and made our free throws. Those were huge."

Head Coach Jody Adams, on the biggest key to success: "I think sometimes, it's just about belief in self. With so many new players, they have to believe in themselves and how hard they work. We have talented players that can do a lot of different things really well. It's just about having the confidence to do what you do."

Junior forward Fanta Gassama, on her performance: "I feel like in this game, we played very together. From the beginning, we started to play hard. For me, I started to shoot with more confidence. I didn't see a bunch of high-lows, so I was passing the ball as well. When we play together, I feel like we are a special team. Today, we were together."

Up Next
The 2023-24 regular season has come to a close. While the CUSA Tournament tips off on Tuesday, March 12, the Aggies will rest until Thursday. The Crimson & White will square off with FIU once again, on a neutral floor this time. The Aggies and Panthers are set to tip off at 1:00 PM MT (2:00 PM local) on March 14. The entire men's and women's tournaments will be held across March 12-16 from VBC Propst Arena in Huntsville, Ala. The Aggies' first round matchup will be streamed live on ESPN+ and available to follow via

For complete coverage of NM State Women's Basketball, follow us on Twitter (@NMStateWBB), Instagram (@NMStateWBB) and like us on Facebook (NM State Women's Basketball). You can also follow along with Aggie Women's Basketball via

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Bea Martinez

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