The Jody Adams era at New Mexico State has gotten off to a rocking start.
On Tuesday night, at the Pan Am Center, the New Mexico State women’s basketball did something it hasn’t done in six seasons.
Yes, the Aggies got their first win over the rival New Mexico since Nov. 30, 2016. For all you math experts at home, that is 2,716 days since the last time the Aggies beat the Lobos.
But, first-year head coach Jody Adams is changing the culture in Las Cruces. And changing it in a big way.
The Aggies, especially in the first half, made the Lobos look silly thanks to excellent defense and proficient shooting.
The game seemed over at halftime thanks to a 32-13 lead by NMSU. But the Lobos rallied in the second half. After some impressive play late, UNM tied it up and sent things into overtime after a thrilling final few minutes of regulation.
However, the Aggies refused to lose to their in-state rivals at home and went off in overtime, resulting in a 73-64 win.
There have been many exciting games early this season. And this match-up was no exception. Let’s get into the details.
Dominance in Half One
Let’s be honest. No one was going into this game expecting new head coach Jody Adams and her team to beat their rivals to the north. However, early on it was very clear we were all entirely wrong.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 20-2 in favor of the Aggies. UNM could not buy a shot in that period, going 1-14 from the field. They also didn’t make it to the free throw line until the 2nd quarter.
Their turnover numbers didn’t help either. The Lobos had 15 turnovers at the beginning of the second half, whereas the Aggies only had 8 at that point.
The Aggies, on the other hand, immediately looked dangerous. New Mexico State shot around 45 percent from the field in the first half, leaving the Lobos in the dust from the jump.
This game seemed over before it had really gotten started. But little did we know, this was only the beginning.
Lobos Looking Up
Steadily throughout the second half, the Lobos cut into the deficit. The Lobos improved their shooting percentage to 46 percent in the third quarter and a whopping 69 percent in the fourth. Considering they shot seven percent and 25 percent from the field in the first and second quarters respectively, this looked like an entirely new team.
In the fourth quarter, the Lobos looked unstoppable. They scored 30 points, not only putting themselves back in the game but also suddenly looking like they could win it after never having a lead at any point.
Despite the New Mexico surge, the Aggies stayed in it thanks to clutch free throws. But the Lobos refused to go down easily. Suddenly we had ourselves one of the first overtime games of the season.
“We just continued to believe in our coaching staff, our teammates, and just from all five players on the court to everyone one the bench was just believing in each other,” Aggie guard Molly Kaiser said. “We kept talking to each other and leading each other. We just got our confidence back and it’s our game. We’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna take it. That was the mindset – That was the shift change toward the end of fourth quarter, going into overtime.”
The Bigger They Come, the Harder They Fall
This hard-nosed Lobo squad seemed to disappear from the very beginning of overtime. NMSU quickly took advantage, scoring immediately and never letting their foot off the pedal.
The Aggies extended their lead and never lost it. The Lobos simply could not keep up. In the end, the final score was UNM 64, and NMSU 73. What a thriller in Las Cruces.
No caption needed ?#AggieUp pic.twitter.com/k54dSjltZ0
— NM State WBB (@NMStateWBB) November 16, 2022
“We decided to take a chance on each other,” Adams said. “They deserve it – Of any team I’ve ever coached, they deserve it. They work. They come in the office. They come and hang out with us. They want to watch film with us. They want to goof around with us. It’s truly a family atmosphere.”
Player of the Game
Three different Aggies scored in double figures. But one player stood out to me as the most important in the win. Fama Thiam not only had an extremely well-rounded performance, but her clutch free throw shooting toward the end of regulation was a huge reason the Aggies were able to stay in it and send it to overtime. By the end of things, the senior guard from Senegal had 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block. Without her contributions, this game may have gone very differently.
Frankly, I’m not sure what to think about this NMSU team. Sure, this was a huge win on paper. But the second half of play left alot to be desired. The Aggies’ shooting disappeared toward the end of regulation. They also struggled to take care of the ball, turning it over frequently. These two factors were the main things that allowed the Lobos to come all the way back and send it into overtime.
The question now is, which version of NMSU will we get for the rest of the season? Will we get the well-rounded and proficient Aggies we saw in the first half and in overtime last night? Or was the second half where efficient scoring was hard to come by be a more common occurrence? Only time will tell.
The Aggies are truly a wildcard going forward. But for now, Jody Adams has created a lot of excitement in Las Cruces. And a win over the in-state rival Lobos is a great way to keep taking steps forward.