LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Louisiana Tech hit 10-of-10 free throws in the final two minutes of play to escape the Pan American Center with a 79-72 win over New Mexico State Saturday night before 1,065 fans.
Tech saw a 12-point lead cut down to two at 67-65 with 2:02 to play before the Lady Techsters (12-4, 4-1 WAC) clamped down defensively and capitalized at the charity stripe to pull out the seven-point victory.
Head coach Chris Long’s team had to hit a season-best 50 percent of its shots and make 24-of-29 free throws to put away an Aggie team that hit a season-high 11 three-pointers in the game.
“You have to give them some credit,” Long said. “Yes, we made some mistakes defensively in the first half that allowed them some looks but they made a lot of those threes with people in their face and from long distance. Any win on the road in conference play is a good win, especially when a team plays as well as they did tonight.”
New Mexico State held its only lead of the game at 2-0 before Tech answered with an 11-2 run as all five Lady Techsters starters scored in the first four minutes of play.
Leading 36-32 at the half, Tech quickly pushed its advantage out to double figures in the second half and held a 12-point lead on three separate occasions, the last coming at 67-55 with 5:37 to play.
However, that’s when New Mexico State (5-11, 2-3 WAC) used a 10-0 run spurred by a pair of three-pointers to close the deficit to 67-65 on a pair of free throws by Cecilia Russell-Nava after a technical foul was called against Tech forward Ty Moore for throwing an elbow.
However, Moore answered with two free throws of her own and Tech’s defense allowed the Aggies only one more bucket over the final two minutes of play.
Senior guard Tasha Williams scored four of her game-high 17 points on consecutive possessions with just over a minute to play to give Tech a six-point advantage and some breathing room.
“I thought Tasha came up big,” Long said. “I had a little talk with her coming out of one of the final timeouts about stepping up and she did. We need that from her.”
In addition to Williams 17 points, Ty Moore added 15 points and Aarica Ray-Boyd chipped in with 11 points.
Russell-Nava led the Aggies with 19 points, followed by Irma Kmitaite with 17, Sherrell Neal with 11 and Monique Bribiescas with 10.
Tech returns to action Thursday when the Techsters host San Jose State at 7 p.m.