SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KVIA) -- For the first time this season, the Aggies entered the win column, defeating Incarnate Word 59-52. Molly Kaiser, Sabou Gueye, Tylie Jones and Jaila Harding all picked up at least 10 points as part of what was easily the team's most efficient performance of the young campaign. The Aggies shot 25-for-47 overall and canned four of their nine three-point attempts. With the win, NM State improved to 1-2, while the loss dropped UIW to 1-1.
After four minutes - 10% of the game - each team was knotted at 2-2. The first media timeout came with the Aggies ahead 4-2. Offense would pick up, however, in particular from the hands of reliable senior Molly Kaiser. The 5-foot-8 guard got to her spots, knocking down all three of her field goal attempts and adding a three with 22 seconds left in the quarter to give the Aggies their 13-6 lead.
The Cardinals only won one quarter on Sunday, as is becoming a trend for NM State's opponents this season. That quarter was the second on Sunday, as UIW leaned on five assists to fuel a quarter in which they shot at least 50% from deep (3-6) and the field (7-13). The Aggies coughed it up three times, including a pair of steals that led to four Cardinal points. NM State held their own, shooting 8-15 from the field in the frame. Jaila Harding poured in half of her ten points in the quarter, knocking down a mid-range shot followed by a long ball. A last-second layup from UIW cut into the lead, sending both teams into the locker rooms with the road team ahead 30-25.
Every point in the first ten minutes after halftime came from one of Jody Adams' five starters. The Cardinals outscored the Aggies in third quarter points off turnovers, second chance points, points off fast breaks, bench points, and were even in points in the paint. Despite that, NM State won the quarteer 14-13 on the backs of Sabou Gueye and Tylie Jones, who combined for 10 points, going 4-for-6 from the field, adding a three pointer and a free throw. Each team put up just nine shots in the third, but it was the road team that knocked down six of them. Gueye knocked down the final bucket of the quarter, granting NM State a lead to start the fourth quarter for the first time this season.
The media timeout came and went after over five minutes of game time where the lead fluctuated between to four and six points, and both sides combined for just three field goals. Jaila Harding came out of the timeout and hit a crucial three-point shot that swelled the lead to seven (51-44) with 4:39 remaining. After that point, UIW only mustered up two made field goals, but attempted to spark a comeback from the free-throw line. Fortunately for the Aggie faithful, both sides struggled from the line down the stretch. While NM State shot 4-for-9 in the quarter, UIW went 7-for-13. The Cardinals will surely be kicking themselves as they look back on a second half that included nine missed free throws. While NM State was once again far from perfect at the foul line, their four makes were enough to stave off any potential comeback. The clock struck 0:00 and the team headed home with their first win of the season - 59-52.
Head Coach Jody Adams, on the win: "I thought we grinded it out at times. I liked our ability to take what we draw up on the sideline and execute it. They (UIW) were changing up their defenses a lot, so it's really hard for an offense to get in rhythm. More importantly, defensively, we guarded really well and really hard. I just like the heart. We came off a very, very physical game, and we had one day to recover, and then we had to get back out there for 40 minutes. Being able to have this experience, knowing what Conference USA is going to bring, is great for us."
Head Coach Jody Adams, on the importance of depth: "I think it's huge. Having four people in double figures is great. We'll have others that have the ability to score, and help us on the boards, with the addition of Femme (Sikuzani Masudi). We just got deeper. I like our ability to score, but it's really just working through playing together."
Numbers of Note
- For the third straight game, the Aggies were outscored in exactly one quarter. Arizona got the best of NM State in the first quarter, UTEP's third quarter propelled them to victory and the Aggies won every quarter except for the second (19-17) against UIW.
- Junior guard Sabou Gueye has scored exactly 13 points in all three games this season, after averaging just 2.0 points per game a season ago.
- The Aggies did not shoot a free throw in the first half. They shot 18 less free throws (11) than the Cardinals (29).
- Lucia Yenes made her return to the floor on Sunday. After tearing her left ACL in February, Yenes recorded an assist and a rebound across four minutes in her first game back.
- Despite the efficient numbers from the floor, the Aggies continued to struggle at the free-throw line. The Aggies logged their worst percentage at the charity stripe this season, going 5-for-11 (44.4%).
After two stops away from home, the Aggies will return to the confines of the Pan American Center to take on Portland State. The Vikings will visit NM State on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2:00 PM MT. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+, and available to follow via StatBroadcast.