The Western New Mexico University women’s basketball team fought back to take a lead early in the fourth quarter before Rogers State University was able to regain the lead and hold off the Lady Mustangs for the 65-56 victory Friday in the season opener for both teams.
Trailing 40-37 entering the final frame, the Lady Mustangs opened the fourth quarter putting in the first four points to snag the lead. Junior Megan Looney hit a pair from the foul line and then junior Takiyah Lopez added a layup for the 41-40 lead 40 seconds into the fourth.
Senior Myla Woods-Brown and junior Ciara Fields kept the game tied at 42 and again at 44. Freshman Rachel Francisco sunk two from the foul line to get WNMU to within two at 49-47 when Rogers State tallied the next four points to gain a little separation at 53-47. A jumper by freshman Cassandra Vickery had WNMU back to within three at 56-53 with just over two minutes to play, but each time the Lady Mustangs were ready to tie, the Hillcats had an answer. They went on a 4-0 run to pull out to a seven-point lead on their way to picking up the win.
Early on, it was tough for both teams to get the offense going as Rogers State scored the first five points and towards the end of the first quarter, Fields connected on a three-pointer to tie the game at eight through the first 10 minutes.
The Hillcats opened the second quarter on a 8-0 run over the first four minutes and after back-to-back three-pointers by Francisco to get to within three, Rogers State closed the half outscoring WNMU by four to take a 25-18 lead into halftime.
Rogers State had the lead as high as 11 at 32-21 two minutes into the third quarter, but WNMU refused to go away. They slowly worked their way back, pulling to within three at 34-31 on a jumper by Francisco. Senior Melody McLaughlin made it a one-point game after hitting two from the foul line before Rogers State hit a layup at the end of the third to take the 40-37 lead into the final frame.
WNMU made 17-46 from the field (37), while Rogers State connected on 18-54 (33). WNMU held a 5-4 edge on three-pointers, while Rogers State caught up at the foul line making 25 to 17 for WNMU. WNMU took advantage of strong bench play outscoring Rogers State 38-12.
Francisco had a strong debut for the Lady Mustangs as the true freshman poured in 17 points, making 6-14 from the field and 2-5 from long range. She also added two steals in 28 minutes. Fields reached double-figures with 13 points, going 4-11 from the field. Lopez led the way in rebounds with six, while McLaughlin dished out three assists and junior Ashton Carrasco added a block.
Lauren Schuldt had a big game for Rogers State tallying 23 points, along with eight rebounds and two blocks. Carlye Bohannan added 10 points.
WNMU will continue the Conference Challenge tomorrow (Saturday) as they will face another Heartland Conference opponent in Newman starting at 4 p.m. Central Time. The Jets rolled to a 81-45 win earlier today against New Mexico Highlands.