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NMSU women’s basketball season opens tonight

The New Mexico State women’s basketball season opens tonight when NMSU plays UC Riverside at the Pan American Center.

The women’s team has been dominant over the past few years, boasting a regular-season record of 26-6 and a Western Athletic Conference record of 15-1 in 2018-2019.

Gia Pack goes up for a layup in a game against Western Michigan, Nov. 11, 2018. (Photo courtesy of NMSU athletics)

The team has been to the NCAA tournament four times in the last five years. On top of that, the Aggies have won the Western Athletic Conference championship title five years in a row.

“We are going to continue to work hard and embrace the challenge of playing with a target on our backs every night.”

If the Aggies achieve a sixth straight championship title this year, they will be the first team in the history of the WAC to do so.

Leading the NMSU women’s team is head coach Brooke Atkinson. In the 2017-18 season, Atkinson was named WAC Coach of the Year. The team’s 26-6 regular-season finish tied an all-time program record.

With all of the Aggies’ success in recent years, there is a lot of hype surrounding the team heading into the 2019-2020 season. In the WAC preseason media poll, the Aggies were picked to win the conference championship once again.

In a statement published by the NMSU athletics department, Atkinson made it clear that her squad would embrace the challenge of playing as favorites. “We are going to continue to work hard and embrace the challenge of playing with a target on our backs every night,” Atkinson said. 

Unfortunately for NMSU, Dominique Mills and Joe Kearny award winner Brooke Salas both graduated. Mills and Salas were two of the top players on the team last season. However, returning for the Aggies is the team’s most accurate free throw shooter, Rodrea Echols, who hit over 80% of her attempted free throws last season. Echols missed a majority of the season last year due to injury, but she is set to play this season.

Also returning for her final season is Gia Pack, NMSU’s second-highest scorer from last season. Last season, Pack averaged nearly 17 points per game and 7 rebounds per game. Pack is also the preseason WAC Player of the Year, raising expectations for her performance this season. Pack is currently the 15th highest scorer in program history with a total of 1,259 points scored.

Although the Aggies have a high amount of roster turnover, Atkinson’s leadership and the return of Echols and Pack make the Aggies an attractive favorite to win the WAC conference title for the sixth time in a row.

The Aggies begin their season tonight when they host UC Riverside. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. 

2019-2020 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE

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