Lady Mustangs Secure Big Road Win at CSU-Pueblo

PUEBLO, Colo. – It was a crucial road game and the Western New Mexico University women’s basketball team responded in a big way Saturday night. Needing a win to move back into the top-eight of the conference standings, the Lady Mustangs won the battle of the top two defensive teams in the conference besting Colorado State University-Pueblo, 56-51, in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action. The win also snapped a 15-game winning streak for CSU-Pueblo in the series.

“Proud of our kids to come back after a tough night last night and play well against a very well coached Pueblo team,” Head Coach Rusty Kennedy said. “Our seniors really gave us great leadership tonight!”

Having entered the game just on the outside looking in of the top-eight, WNMU (11-8, 8-7 RMAC) not only equaled their win total from last season, but have moved into a three-way tie for sixth along with Regis and MSU Denver.

In a game that was expected to be a defensive battle lived up to just that with both teams shooting in the 30’s with WNMU making 19-52 (36.5), while CSU-Pueblo managed just a 19-of-62 (30.6). WNMU made up ground in three-pointers (8-5) and in free throws (10-8). The Lady Mustangs also limited one of the top post players in the conference in Katie Nehf to a 0-for-11 shooting night and no points in 31 minutes.

An inspired WNMU team started early and often putting up the first eight points of the game. Stephanie Moore (Anton, TX/Anton High School) opened the scoring 35 seconds in, then three-pointers by RaTanya Newsome (Tucson, AZ/Tucson High School) and Ashley Mitchell (Fort Defiance, AZ/Window Rock High School) had the lead at 8-0.

CSU-Pueblo (11-8, 9-6 RMAC) would come back to take their first lead, 12-10, near the midway point of the half. The lead would change hands a few more times the rest of the half before the Lady ThunderWolves took a 25-23 lead into halftime. The scored changed three times and was tied four times.

CSU-Pueblo then opened the second half like WNMU did the game going on a 10-4 run to push the lead to their largest of the night at eight, 35-27, just over four minutes into the second stanza.

Following a WNMU timeout, Newsome helped break the run with a triple and after a jumper by Nalani Hernandez (Tucson, AZ/Tucson High School), Stephanie Douthit (Phoenix, AZ/Desert Mountain ) gave the Lady Mustangs a quick 8-0 run back to tie the score at 35 following her trey.

After the teams tied for the seventh time near the midway point of the half, a three-ball from Ashley Mitchell (Fort Defiance, AZ/Window Rock High School) boosted WNMU back in front and they would stay there the rest of the way.

The lead would stretch to seven on a jumper by Jade Botelho (Honolulu, HI/Iolani High School) a few minutes later. The Lady ThunderWolves made one last run with a minute left trimming the deficit to three, but then a missed three-pointer and two free throws by Botelho helped secure the big road victory.

The win in Pueblo marked the first for WNMU since rejoining the RMAC in 2006.

Newsome led WNMU with 12 points, while dishing out five assists and three steals. Douthit came off the bench to contribute 10 points, while Moore and Mitchell added nine apiece. Mitchell led the team in assists with six.

Tuileisu Anderson paced CSU-Pueblo and all-scorers with 15 points.

WNMU will now begin a stretch of four straight home games beginning on Friday night at 5:30 p.m. against Fort Lewis. The Lady Skyhawks were upset in Alamosa tonight by Adams State, 77-74.

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