After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Utah State women’s basketball team came from behind to earn its first ever Mountain West Conference tournament win with a 69-66 victory over New Mexico.
“My biggest objective was to convince the girls if you beat them twice, you can beat them a third time,” said USU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner. “I really like the way we grinded it out. I knew it was going to be a tough matchup.”
Jennifer Schlott recorded a game-high 29 points and dished out seven assists despite getting into foul trouble in the second half. The Aggies withstood a Lobo offensive barrage in the first half in which New Mexico shot better than 72 percent over a stretch and 58 percent in the half. The Aggies gave up just 18 second half points after allowing 48 in the first half.
“I thought we really clamped down, especially on the defensive boards,” Schlott said. “We got a couple good ones. I thought our effort was just key.”
Elise Nelson pulled down a team-high seven rebounds for the Aggies, to go along with four assists and two steals.
“The crazy thing about Elise Nelson is she’s that good defensively,” Finkbeiner said. “I appreciate the coaches in the league for recognizing that. … We have a pretty good package there.”
After dominating the first half, the Lobos struggled from the field in the second half, shooting just 22 percent.
“We went away from what we wanted to do,” said New Mexico head coach Yvonne Sanchez. “We had four players in double figures, which should have been enough. Credit Utah State, they did a terrific job.”
Utah State advances to face top-seeded Colorado State in the second round on Wednesday at noon PST.