The New Mexico State Aggies claimed the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic tournament title with a stellar 50-44 win over UC Irvine on Saturday evening at the Pan American Center.
Freshman Sasha Weber earned the biggest night of her career with 20 points and four rebounds.
The Lacey, Wash. native went 4-for-5 behind the three-point arc and was 5-for-9 on the night.
Weber opened up big for the Aggies in the first half with two three-point buckets in the first two minutes of play. NM State held off UC Irvine until near the 14-minute mark. The basket by the Anteaters stalled NM State as it went scoreless for more than five minutes.
Weber brought the Aggies back to life with her third three of the night. A couple of good free throws by Stefanie Gilbreath and Danesia Williamson followed by Camila Rosen's first bucket of season kept the Aggies ahead going into the half 21-20 at the half.
"This was a great win for us," head coach Mark Trakh said. "Sasha (Weber) had her best night and was on point with her three's and the girls just really brought it together."
In the first half, NM State was shooting 31.8 percent from the field, but still managed to hold the lead throughout.
NM State went on an 11-point run, starting with a pair of three's by Gilbreath that put the team back on top 32-29 with 9:30 left to play. A three by Weber and a bucket by Kelsie Rozendaal moved the score to 37-29 before the Anteaters were able to put some points on the board with a pair of baskets.
"We still have plenty of work to do, we made some mistakes, and we have to focus on the UTEP game on Wednesday. UTEP is a top-25 team and we have to be at our best."
After taking their largest lead of the night, the Aggies allowed UCI to go on an eight-point run before moving the score back in NM State favor with a layup by Williamson. With Weber at the line for the final nine shots of the night, she sank five, giving the Aggies their 50-44 victory and move their season record to 3-2 overall.
Gilbreath finished the evening with 13 points to her name and eight rebounds. She worked for three assists. She helped the Aggies boost back in the second half with back-to-back three's. Senior Kelsie Rozendaal and junior Jasmine Rutledge combined for 12 rebounds and Camila Rosen led the team with three steals and picked up her first two buckets of the season.
NM State now focuses on hosting I-10 rival UTEP on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Pan American Center before getting back on the road for a meeting with Southern Utah.