Aggies fall agonizingly short of winning the WBI with 63-61 loss to California Baptist
LEXINGTON, Kentucky (KVIA) -- New Mexico State Women's Basketball (18-17, 10-8 WAC) season has officially come to an end in Kentucky after falling to California Baptist (22-13, 13-5 WAC) in a tightly contested game that went down to the final shot.
The Aggies battled back from multiple double-digit deficits with the help Molly Kaiser's 19-point performance. Sylena Peterson and Tayelin Grays also played a significant role in tonight's Aggies comeback efforts, scoring 13 points.
The Aggies fought hard on the boards all night, winning the rebounding battle with a +10 margin against the Lancers, including a +12 margin on the offensive glass. The turnover battle was dead, even with both teams seeing 17 possessions switch hands.
The three-ball truly hurt the Aggies as the Lancers knocked down 11 triples in the match, holding NM State to just two.
Molly Kaiser connected with a mid-range jumper on the game's opening possession, giving the Aggies the first two points. After back-to-back makes by the Lancers on their first two possessions, Molly Kaiser came right back at the other end and hit another jumper to even the game at four.
Dorcas Wu caught fire for the Lancers after connecting with three straight makes from range, giving CBU an early 13-4 lead, forcing Jody Adams to use her first timeout with just over five minutes to go in the first.
Soufia Inoussa cut the lead down to six with a made jumper from inside the paint, but three straight layups by the Lancers pushed their lead to double figures with just over a minute to go in the opening quarter. After one, CBU led NM State 23-11.
Back-to-back makes to open the second put the Aggies back within eight of the Lancers before Chloe Webb knocked down another three for CBU to put them up 26-15 with just under seven minutes remaining in the half. Tayelin Grays got those three points back the next possession after drawing some contact on the way to the rim, draining the layup in the process.
A smooth pullup jumper by Sylena Peterson brought the Aggies to within a possession of the Lancer's, capping off a 7-1 NM State run with just over three minutes to go in the half. Following some back-and-forth scoring by both sides in the closing minutes of the half, the Aggies were able to turn a double-digit deficit into a one-possession game heading into the Locke room. At the break, CBU led 36-33.
CBU started the second half the same way they ended the first - with a made triple, giving them seven for the game. The Aggies only made two buckets within the first five minutes of the second half, allowing the Lancers to take a nine-point lead with 4:48 to go in the third.
In total, NM State only made three shots from the floor in the third period, and California Baptist's offense would not slow down as they carried a ten-point advantage over the crimson and white heading into the fourth.
The final quarter was completely flipped from an offensive standpoint. After the Aggies could only connect for three makes in the third, they held the Lancers to just three makes in the fourth, giving them plenty of opportunity to mount another double-digit comeback.
Free throws were a significant contributor in helping the Aggies comeback efforts. The team went a perfect 8-8 from the stripe in the period, with half of them coming in the opening three minutes of the quarter.
With 2:26 to go in the game, NM State still trailed CBU by ten and needed to make something happen if they were going to win this game. An 8-0 Aggie run over the next 1:23 cut the Lancer lead down to two. It started with a pair of makes from the line by Molly Kaiser to cut the lead down to eight. Sylena Peterson and Soufia Inoussa then exchanged back-to-back threes from the left corner to bring the Aggies back within two.
Tayelin Grays later tried to take the lead with a three from the wing but missed off the front iron. Thankfully, Inoussa was in a perfect position to grab the rebound and put back the shot with a layup to make it a one-point Lancer lead. CBU took a 63-61 lead after splitting a pair of free throws setting up the Aggies for a final possession and potential game-tying or winning shot.
Molly Kaiser received the inbound from the far baseline and drove the length of the court with nine seconds left, looking to tie the game with a layup. Navigating through defenders, she found her way to the rim and put up a layup that contacted the rim but deflected to the ground causing a pileup as both teams fought for the ball. As this happened, seconds continued to dwindle away and eventually run out. CBU survives NM State, 63-61.
- NM State finished the season with 18-17 overall – eight wins higher than their 2021-22 total (10).
- The Aggies held the Lancers under their season scoring average (74.4) for the third time this season.
- Molly Kaiser (19), Sylena Peterson (13), and Tayelin Grays (13) were the only three Aggies to reach double figures in scoring.
- The Aggies scored 24 points off 17 Lancer turnovers.
- NM State (15) secured 12 more offensive rebounds than CBU (3), and ten more rebounds overall (36-26)
- The Aggies held the Lancers to no field goals in the final 3:17 of the game.