PORTLAND – NM State (4-7, 0-0 WAC) took a narrow 55-53 victory over Portland State (4-5, 0-0 Big Sky) this afternoon to secure their second road win of the season.
NM State put up a nice effort on defense, especially in the first half allowing just five shots to fall for the Vikings and holding them to no threes. In fact, the Vikings didn’t record their first three point make until the fourth quarter. Most of Portland States points were coming from the free throw line, 43.3% of their points to be exact. Their first 13 points were all from the charity stripe and didn’t record a bucket until one minute left in the first quarter.
Both teams struggled to get points on the board in the opening four minutes of regulation going a combined 0-11 to start the game. The Vikings did get the first points on the board with a pair of made free throws at the 8:18 mark and later made another pair of free throws with 6:06 left to play in the half Molly Kaiser needed the Aggies scoring doubt with a contact layup that put them on the board four minutes into the game. Tayelin Grays later scored the Aggies second bucket of the game coming off a Fama Thaim assist bringing the score to 6-4 with the Vikings ahead. Later in the period, Taylor Donaldson poked a ball free off an inbound and fond Fama Thiam on the other end for the easy transition basket brining the Aggies within one of the Vikings with 1:45 left. At the end of one, Portland State led 15-13
Fama Thiam got the quarter started by knocking down a three pointer. Soufia Inoussa and Taylor Donaldson followed suit and buried two triples of their own giving the Aggies a 26-21 lead with about 5:30 left in the half. A few possessions later, Molly Kaiser poked a ball out of a Vikings hand and passed it up court to Soufia Inoussa who drained another three giving her two in the half. With 3:22 left in the half, Fama Thaim made a contact layup after securing a rebound on the other end to give the Aggies an eight-point lead. Portland State came back and hit a layup on the following possession bringing the Aggie lead back to six as they headed to halftime leading 31-25.
With Sylena Peterson still out (illness), the Aggies relied heavily on Taylor Donaldson to facilitate the offense, and that’s exactly what she did. Coming out the break, Donaldson led a fast break score after she found Soufia Inoussa in transition for another easy layup at the basket. The next possession, she recorded another assist, this time to Shania Harper who was waiting patiently by the net. Harper was also instrumental in the Aggies win today recorded a season high nine points off the bench. Later in the third, Ene Adams cleaned up a miss from Tayelin Grays making her a perfect three-for-three in the game and giving the Aggies their largest lead of the game (11) with just under a minute to go in the quarter. Going into the fourth, the Aggies led the Vikings 45-36.
Soufia Inoussa got the Aggies started in the fourth with a corner triple, her fourth of the game, setting a new season high for her in that mark. This was just one of three baskets the Aggies recorded in the quarter, which is huge factor in allowing the Vikings to climb back at the end. After not hitting a shot from the arc all game, the vikings finally got one to fall after their leading scorer, Esmeralda Morales hit a step-back jumper to cut the deficit to five. Inoussa answered back later with another three and Fama Thiam followed with made jumper from the wing bringing the Aggie lead back to 11. A 10-2 run by the Vikings brought them back to within one possession of the Aggies (53-50) with 1:12 left to play. Portland State had a lot of opportunities to tie and even take the lead over the Aggies in the final minute of play, even getting the final shot, but were unable to get over the hump. Ultimately, NM State snuck by Portland State with a 55-53 victory ending the losing streak at three.
- Despite being held to a season-low three points, Molly Kaiser impacted the game in the rebounding category as she finished with a career-best six rebounds.
- Shania Harper posted her best scoring output of the season – finishing with nine points while going 4-7 from the field. Defensively, Harper tallied a season-high two steals.
- Soufia Inoussa’s 11-point day marked the third time this season that the senior from Sweden scored in double figures. Inoussa also matched her career-high in assists with six.
- Going a perfect 4-4 from the floor, Ene Adams matched her best scoring effort of the year after also scoring eight points in the Aggies’ last outing.
- Taylor Donaldson posted a career-high seven assists while only committing two turnovers in over 36 minutes of action. Donaldson also finished the day with a career mark in steals with a handful against the Vikings.
- Led by Donaldson and Inoussa, the Aggies tallied a season-high 18 assists on 23 made field goals.
- Defensively, the Aggies’ pressure led to equaling a season-best mark in steals with 14.
NM State returns to the Pan Am Tuesday (Dec. 20) to take on Northern New Mexico at noon. The Aggies are back on the road the following week when they head to Edinburg, Texas (Dec. 29) to take on UTRGV before closing out the 2022 year with a home game against Southern Utah on New Year’s Eve.