Ag women go dancing with Sun Devils
With another banner year under its belt, the New Mexico State women’s basketball team enters the opening round of the NCAA Tournament as the 15th-seed and will square off against the No. 2-seed Arizona State.
The two teams will face off for just the 14th time in program history at 5:30 p.m. MT on Friday, March 16.
The game will be televised on ESPN2 and be on the radio at 570 AM.
Putting on their dancing shoes
For the second-straight year and only the fourth time in program history, the Aggies are playing in the NCAA Tournament.
Other than last season, the only other times NM State earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament was during the 1986-87 (L, 86-73) and 1987-88 (L, 99-74) seasons under Joe McKeown. The Aggies lost in the first-round to Washington both years.
NM State lost to No. 1 Maryland last season, 75-57, in the first round. The Terrapins ended up in the Final Four before falling to the eventual champions, Connecticut, 8158.
Running the WAC
For the second-straight year, NM State dominated the competition in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
In a rematch of last year’s championship, NM State outplayed UT Rio Grande Valley in every facet en route to its 80-53 win Saturday, March 12, led by freshman Brooke Salas’ 20 points.
NMSU got 16 points, five boards and three assists from senior Sasha Weber – who also went 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Senior Shanice Davis chipped in with 11 points of her own and a dished out a season-high tying seven assists.
NM State was dominant in the paint, edging UTRGV 34-18, and shot 48.4-percent from the floor compared to the Vaquero’s 32.3-percent shooting.
Weber was named the WAC Tournament’s Most Valuable Player after totaling 28 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in two games. Salas also joined Weber on the all-tournament team after tallying 29 points, nine rebounds, two steals and an assists.
NM State women’s head coach Mark Trakh continues to leave his mark in the coaching world as he became just the fifth head coach to lead three separate teams to two-consecutive NCAA appearances. He has done so with Pepperdine, USC and now NMSU.
Of those five coaches, Jim Foster is the only coach to lead four different teams to the Big Dance in consecutive years.
Trakh is 2-6 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The two wins came during his tenure at USC where the Trojans advanced to the second-round of the tournament in back-toback years from 2004-06. Sun Devils
Arizona State, ranked No. 11 by the Associated Press in the latest polls, enters the match-up 25-6 overall and 16-2 in Pac-12 play. The No. 2-seeded Sun Devils, in the Sioux Falls Regional, finished the 2015-16 season tied with No. 6 Oregon State for the regular-season title, but was ousted in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament by Cal, 75-64.
ASU also had a 15-game winning- streak this season, but it was snapped at the hands of the Beavers in Corvallis, 67-44. ASU then went on a seven-game winning-streak before dropping its next two contests to then-No. 14 UCLA, 74-61, followed by Cal in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament.
As a team, ASU is shooting a dismal 11-percent (5-of-47) from 3-point range in its last three contests. However, the Sun Devils are shooting a .321 clip from beyond the arc on the year.
The Sun Devils are led by All-Pac-12 Conference teamer Sophie Brunner, who is averaging 10.8 points and 7.5 boards per game. The junior forward also has 48 assists, 44 steals and six blocks to her name this season. After being held to just five points against Southern California, Brunner registered back-to-back double-doubles against the Bruins (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Golden Bears (14, 11).