Molly Kaiser had a game-high 25 points to lead New Mexico State into the second round of the WAC Tournament. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

Culture Change, Big Belief Lead Aggies to Second Round of WAC Tourney

When Jody Adams took over the New Mexico State women’s basketball team on March 31, 2022, she wanted to bring a culture change to Las Cruces.

‘Big belief’ is what Adams calls that culture change. It was imprinted on a patch on Adams’ unique jacked on Monday night.

Well, that culture change, as well as the performance of Molly Kaiser, has the Aggies heading to the second round of the 2023 WAC Tournament.

Kaiser had a game-high 25 points as 7-seed New Mexico State knocked off 10-seed UTRGV, 65-49, on Monday night at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“I’m just extremely proud of this team as a whole,” Adams said. “Taking over a program wanting to come in and set a culture of winning ways … It started with our belief system, having big belief of just who we are, what our hearts are about, what was going to drive our behavior…you got to see that tonight.”

Kaiser scored four of the first six New Mexico State points to give the Aggies. Late in the first quarter, Kaiser hit back-to-back jumpers to give the Aggies a 20-13 lead.

It was a slow methodical process for the Aggies on Monday night. Part of that was UTRGV hitting shots to stay in the ball game. The other part of it is that New Mexico State had momentary lapses.

Following Zariah Sango’s hook shot that cut the Aggie lead to five with 6:11 left in the half, Kaiser had a response.

Back-to-back jumpers started an 8-0 run as to extend the Aggie lead to 13 with 1:27 left in the half.

“I think the biggest change, before we even touched the basketball, she took us into the room and it was pretty much we were setting a culture,” Kaiser said. “What this team was going to be about. Besides x’s and o’s, just the culture-wise. The family, the atmosphere.”

Big belief continued in the second half for the Aggies.

Following five straight points from Iyana Dorsey, Adams took a quick 30-second timeout.

Out of the timeout, the Aggies had a response. Sylena Peterson and Molly Kaiser hit back-to-back jumpers to push the Aggie lead back to 10.

After another Dorsey 3-pointer, the Aggies went on a 6-0 run and the lead was 13 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter.

Tiffany McGarity was one of two Vaqueros in double figures in Mondays loss to New Mexico State. Courtesy Western Athletic Conference.

That was the way the remainder of the quarter went. Tayelin Grays hit a jumper to end the quarter, giving the Aggies a 52-40 lead heading into the final frame.

The closest UTRGV got in the second half was 12. Unfortunately for the Vaqueros, there was a lid on the basket. UTRGV shot just 27 percent from the field on Monday night. Out of the 14 field goals the Vaqueros hit, six of them came from 3-point range.

“Tonight just wasn’t out night,” UTRGV head coach Lane Lord said. “We’ve been playing really good basketball the last three weeks of the season…really just kind ran out of gas tonight. Didn’t shoot the ball well. But I’m proud of our group.”

Molly Kaiser put the nail in the coffin with 2:06 to play. Kaiser hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Aggies a 63-47 lead.

“That’s kind of what we started and built this foundation on,” Kaiser said. “And I think that’s what separates us from last year or any year before. Setting that culture and that big belief.”

Kaiser had a game-high 25 points. Tayelin Grays was also in double figures for the Aggies with 13 points.

With the win, the Aggies advance to face 2-seed and regular season champion Southern Utah on Wednesday.

Iyana Dorsey had a team-high 18 points for the Vaqueros. Tiffany McGarity was also in double figures with 14 points.

UTRGV finishes its 2022-23 season at 12-18 overall.


About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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