The 2020-21 season is one the New Mexico State Aggies would like to have back. No home games at the Pan Am Center. Had to relocate for a time because of COVID restrictions within the state. Had to host home games at a high school gym in nearby El Paso. Just a long list of issues that wreaked havoc on a basketball season to remember. In fact, the past two seasons have not been friendly to the Aggies. New Mexico State is 21-30 overall and 14-14 in WAC play over the past two seasons. That seems like a long way away from 15-1 in WAC play and a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19. And, with the newly formed WAC, the road is just getting more difficult.
Brooke Atkinson, 5th Season
Overall Collegiate Record: 63-50
At NMSU: 63-50 Overall, 40-18 WAC
2020-21: 9-12 Overall, 6-6 WAC
Postseason: Lost in WAC Tournament semifinals
Tyeisha Smith, 5-8, JR, G
Kayla Watkins, 6-2, F (Weber State)
Big Sarr, 6-3, F (Oklahoma State)
Melanie Isbell, 5-4, G, SO (UNLV)
Unknown at this point due to the fact rosters haven’t been updated and the Aggies have six new faces coming to Las Cruces for the 2021-22 season.
Predicted WAC Finish
Brooke Atkinson and New Mexico State’s women’s basketball program have been the gold standard in the Western Athletic Conference for about a decade. Under Atkinson, the Aggies have won two regular season titles and a WAC Tournament title. However, after these last two years, coming up empty handed in both the regular season race for a crown and postseason tournament, one must ask if the conference has finally caught this dominant Aggie program?
Aaliyah Prince led the Aggies a year ago averaging 12.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game as a redshirt senior. Soufia Inoussa was the second leading scorer at 10.8 points adding 4.6 boards per game. Roderea Echols is the team’s top returning 3-point shooter at 43.5% and averaging 9.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
The question remains: who will step up and fills the void left by Prince? Molly Kaiser? Tayelin Grays? Or perhaps one of the three Division I transfers headed to Las Cruces? Atkinson has her work cut out for her. But, being able too practice in their home gym, and play games in the Pan Am Center make life a little easier.
In 2020-21, the Aggies shot reasonably well from 3-point range at 32.5 percent. New Mexico State also shot 40.1 percent from the field. They’ll have to do a better job of playing defense without fouling. Opponents found their way to the free throw line 95 more times than them and made 77 of those attempts. The good news is the Aggies actually outshot their opponents from both the floor and 3-point range by percentage.
Three Division I transfers, two JUCO transfers and a true freshman will be in the Aggie crimson and cream. Not much else is known about the roster at this point. That will be updated with more information.
According to the first draft of the conference schedule put out in May, NMSU would only play defending champion CBU once. The Aggies play Grand Canyon University twice along with Stephen F. Austin and finish with three of four on the road.