Home, Sports

Aggies fall to Jacksonville State on Senior Day

Saturday afternoon was bittersweet for the New Mexico State University women’s basketball team as they played their last home game of the 2023-24 regular season. After a neck-and-neck game in front of their largest crowd of the season, the team honored the seniors for Senior Day and fell short against their opponent, Jacksonville State University. Losing 60-51, the Aggies dropped to eighth in Conference USA standings with a record of 11-17, 5-10.

The NM State women’s basketball team honors their seniors on Senior Day. Tears were shed as the team recognized Molly Kaiser, Ene Adams and Femme Masudi Sikuzani with flowers and framed jerseys. (Photo by Kylie Garcia/Kokopelli)

The Aggies and Gamecocks were tied for most of the first half, starting the second quarter at 14-14 and approaching the final three minutes at 23-23. Aided by Aggie turnovers, the Gamecocks crept ahead, making the score 31-27 by halftime. The Aggies played catch-up the rest of the second half, finishing the third quarter down by five points, 42-37. In the final minutes of the last quarter, the Aggies had a couple of momentum-building moments, but their shots simply weren’t going in, and the ones that did were too late as the clock quickly ran down and Gamecock free throws widened the gap. 

This loss followed a pattern of the 2023-24 season, in which the Aggies have not had a single comeback. The game’s point margin was also typical when compared to other losses this season. Aside from two major losses against Middle Tennessee State University, the team’s average point margin for losses has been about eight points, based on a range from one to 16 points.  

This season was the Aggies’ first season in CUSA. Before the conference move, the Aggies competed in the Western Athletic Conference, finishing the last regular season 18-17, with a conference record of 10-8.  

According to NM State Athletics, the game’s key performing players were senior guard Molly Kaiser with 17 points, junior guard Jaila Harding with 10 points, and senior forward Ene Adams with eight points and nine rebounds. Kaiser, who has been an Aggie for four years, had a memorable season, becoming the 25th Aggie in program history to score more than 1,000 career points.

Senior guard, Molly Kaiser, contemplates before deciding to shoot her shot from the three-point line. Jacksonville State University’s defense proved strong, forcing 18 Aggie turnovers during Saturday’s last home game for NMSU’s women’s basketball team. (Photo by Kylie Garcia/Kokopelli)

“I think Conference USA is a little bit more competitive in the sense of like ‘oh, they have players who use their talent well,’ but you also have teams who have been together for a while, compared to us who have a bunch of transfers and stuff like that,” Kaiser said. “There are teams who have been building for a year or two or three years, so it just kind of makes you have to work a little bit harder because you have to get everything together, but honestly, I just think the competitive part of it is like the only difference, just showing up every night and doing your job.”   

After Saturday’s game and the Senior Day ceremony, Kaiser took a moment to reflect on her time as an Aggie.  “It just kind of takes me back to my first year,” Kaiser said. “Thinking about who I was when I first got here and where I am today, being a little proud of myself, [and] what it took to get where I am because it wasn’t easy. I was never a starter as a freshman, you know, I had to stay consistent, stay believing in myself, trust the process, and just continue to work, but also be a great teammate [and] be a great leader whether I was playing or I wasn’t playing.”  

The other two seniors that were honored for Senior Day were Ene Adams and center Femme Sikuzani Masudi, who finished her Aggie career with two offensive rebounds and five game minutes. 

NMSU women’s basketball starters get into a pregame huddle with head coach Jody Adams before the start of their last home game of the season against Jacksonville State University on Saturday, March 2. The two teams both entered the matchup with 5-9 conference records. (Photo by Kylie Garcia/Kokopelli)

Head coach Jody Adams, who is in her second season with NMSU’s women’s basketball team, talked about the team’s priorities and focuses as they get ready for the postseason. “It’s a whole different level of contact,” Jody Adams said. “It’s a whole different level of speed, and so you know, to be in February and rolling into March now, where we’re at, it’s just really [about] taking care of their bodies, taking care of their minds, and you know, let’s be who we want to be and making sure that our identification and what we represent is this, our ‘Big Belief’ culture.”

Game attendee Lynn Blackwood shared his thoughts on this coaching team and how he thinks they will shape the Aggies’ future. “As an alum, I’m very supportive of the coaching staff,” Blackwood said. “They love these girls, and the girls play hard. I think it’s only her second year. Give coach Adams two or three more years to gather some more talent and we are going to have something to really be proud of here at NMSU.” 

Going forward, the Aggies have one more away game to conclude the season on Saturday, March 9, at 11 a.m. against Florida International University. After that, the Aggies will head over to Huntsville, Alabama, to compete in the CUSA Tournament March 12-16 at the Von Braun Center Propst Arena. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*