By: Keller Sherman
Featured Image Courtesy of Southern Utah Athletics
LAS VEGAS — After winning the outright regular season title, the Thunderbirds are now just three wins away from their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. To punch a ticket to the Big Dance, they will need to win three games in four days. The first team they will need to navigate is New Mexico State. The seventh-seeded Aggies are coming off a 65-49 win over tenth-seeded UT-Rio Grande Valley in their first-round game. The Thunderbirds last played in a 71-63 victory over Grand Canyon in which they clinched the outright WAC crown.
Regular Season Series
The Thunderbirds went 2-0 against NMSU in the regular season. The two teams first met on New Year’s Eve in Las Cruces. There, SUU came away with a thrilling 61-58 victory. The Thunderbirds were led by Cherita Daugherty’s 26-point effort in that game. On February 9th in Cedar City, the Aggies seemed poised for the upset. SUU found itself down 37-24 at halftime, but the Thunderbirds took over in the 2nd half. Outscoring the Aggies 20-8 in the final frame in retro jerseys, SUU took a 63-56 decision. The Aggies had the Thunderbirds beat for three quarters, but lost the one that mattered most.
Scouting the Aggies
NMSU continues to be led in scoring by Molly Kaiser scoring in double figures in four straight games. In her last two games, Kaiser has combined for 49 points. The Aggies do not have any other players averaging in double figures, but all it takes is a big night from someone for them to have a shot at this upset. The winner of a quarterfinal game between Grand Canyon and Seattle U awaits in the semifinals.