LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A strong fourth quarter surge was not enough for the UMKC women’s basketball team (7-14, 3-3 WAC) to knock off New Mexico State (11-9, 5-1 WAC) on the road, falling by a final score of 70-62 in Saturday afternoon’s contest.
New Mexico State set the tone early with a dominant stretch to open the game, scoring the contest’s first 14 points in route to a 25-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Roos were unable to find an answer on either end of the floor, watching the Aggies combine to hit 11-of-18 (61.1%) of their field goals while UMKC connected on just 4-of-13 (30.8%) of their shot attempts.
“New Mexico State came out very aggressive and we came out very timid and casual,” commented head coach Jacie Hoyt. “Our team needs to understand that we have earned the respect of our opponents on the road, therefore we can’t come out and start that way.”
After the rocky opening frame, the team buckled down in what was a dominant second quarter defensive performance. The Roos outscored New Mexico State 12-7 in the period, limiting the Aggies to 3-of-15 field goal shooting and 1-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
The overly stingy UMKC defense coupled with a strong offensive performance from Kiana Law (Pittsburgh, Pa.) trimmed the deficit to single digits as the contest hit halftime with New Mexico State leading 32-23. Law, who scored seven of the team’s 12 second quarter points, finished the game with an impressive 11 points and nine rebounds, her first time scoring in double-figures since returning to action from injury.
UMKC’s shooting woes continued to plague the team as the second half opened play, converting just 4-of-14 field goal attempts in the third quarter. New Mexico State heated up once again during the cold spell and extended their lead to 13 points at the 8:00 and 3:55 marks of the third quarter.
Aries Washington (Kansas City, Mo.) was one of the few Roos to find success on the offensive end, keeping the team’s hopes of victory alive with a pair of three-pointers in the third period. Washington put on an absolutely masterful performance in the game, finishing with a team-high 22 points, including four makes from beyond the arc, along with 11 rebounds in notching a double-double.
With UMKC facing a second-half large 50-36 deficit entering the final quarter, the resilient bunch proved once again that they are not a team to be counted out until the final buzzer. The Roos opened the fourth quarter on an overpowering 12-0 run to the cut the New Mexico State lead to one possession, the first time since the opening minute of play, with 6:57 remaining.
A nice finish in traffic from Washington would bring UMKC within three points with just over five minutes of play left in the fourth quarter but the team was unable to find the stops or breakthrough shots needed to jump out on top. A 7-1 Aggies run following the layup gave New Mexico State a 60-51 lead with three minutes left on the clock.
The Roos struck back once more in a final attempt to steal a win on the road from the first place Aggies as Kristen Moore (Chicago, Ill.) ignited a 7-1 run with an and-one. The stretch, capped off by an India Johnson (Overland Park, Kan.) layup at the 2:16 mark, made it a one-possession contest for the third time in the final 10 minutes but the team would miss their next six field goal attempts as New Mexico State came away with a 70-62 win.
Moore joined Washington and Law in double-figures scoring in the game, totaling 14 points along with grabbing six rebounds.
“Our conference is so incredibly competitive this year and just a few bad minutes of basketball can bury you,” noted Hoyt. “Our kids responded very well and fought hard to get back in it. I am very proud of their response to adversity today.”
UMKC will return home to host a pair of conference opponents next week with matchups slated for Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. CT against Grand Canyon and Saturday, Feb.3 at 2 p.m. CT against CSU Bakersfield. Both games will be broadcast on the WAC Digital Network free of charge.
– UMKC –