For the New Mexico State women’s basketball team, the past few seasons have been underwhelming. In 2018-19, the Aggies won 26 games, the WAC Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament. Following a loss to 3-seed Iowa State, the Aggies have struggled.
In three seasons since winning that WAC Tournament, the Aggies have not had a winning season. In 2021-22, New Mexico State was 10-19 overall and 6-12 in WAC play. Additionally, New Mexico State was 0-12 in true road games. It has just been a huge struggle. The Aggies also didn’t make much noise in the postseason as the 10-seed at the WAC Tournament. In a rare situation, New Mexico State lost its opening game of the WAC Tournament to Lamar.
Gone are the days of Brooke Salas and Gia Pack.
This off-season saw the loss of multiple players, including the graduation of star forward Bigue Sarr. But not all hope is lost.
The Aggies were able to keep most of their core together, led by Junior guard Molly Kaiser.
Fortunately, the transfer portal is a great thing in terms of building a roster. And first-year head coach Jody Birch-Adams also brought in some excellent additions, including sophomore forward Ashlee Strawbridge.
Molly Kaiser- 5’8” Junior Guard from Watauga, Texas
Last season, Kaiser was second in scoring for the Aggies with 8.2 points per game. This is all the more impressive when considering she only started in 1 of the 29 games she played in 2021-22. Her highest scoring game came against the eventual WAC Champion, Stephen F. Austin, where she scored 20 points while going 7-12 from the field. Kaiser shot 41 percent from the field. And was a 72 percent free throw shooter.
If there is one place Kaiser will have to be little better, it is the 3-point line. Sure, Kaiser took just 24 3-point attempts in 2021-22. But, as one of the key guards for her new head coach, Kaiser will have to shoot it better from the perimeter if the Aggies are to get back to their winning ways.
With the exit of leading scorer Bigue Sarr, Kaiser’s role on offense is expected to increase. She is also expected to get opportunities to show her stuff in the starting lineup.
Ashlee Strawbridge- 6’1” Sophomore Forward Transfer from College of Southern Idaho
Ashlee Strawbridge is getting her chance at the Division I level by joining the Aggies this season. The 6’1” combo guard/forward from Ashburton, New Zealand averaged 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds while playing a little over 21 minutes per game. She led the Golden Eagles in scoring on multiple occasions last season, including a 24-point performance against Salt Lake CC. Strawbridge shot a little over 42 percent from the floor and was a 74 percent free throw shooter.
Strawbridge knows how to win. CSI went 30-3 in 2021-22 and finished 17-1 in conference play. Strawbridge was part of a CSI squad that won the Region 18 Tournament and advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament.
It will be interesting to see how her play translates against tougher competition.
“Ashlee embodies our Aggie culture on and off the court,” New Mexico State head coach Jody Adams-Birch said. “She is truly uncommon in how she embraces life and others. She has the ability to score at all three levels and she is a competitor. Her experience at the national level is something you can’t teach and having her bring that to our program is a bonus for all of us. We are super excited about her being a part of the Aggie family.”