The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team will take on the Aggies of New Mexico State University on Saturday, Dec. 31. This will be the Thunderbirds’ second conference matchup this season.
Both teams took wins on Thursday, Dec. 29 as Western Athletic Conference play began. The Aggies currently hold a 6-7 overall record, slightly better than the Thunderbirds’ 5-7.
New Mexico State
The Aggies are currently the No. 10 offensive team of 13 WAC competitors. In their 13 games, they have overall outscored their opponents by an average of 3.8 points. Their team field goal percentage stands at 42.8% but they have struggled from long range, shooting just 28.3% from behind the three-point line. Sophomore guard Sylena Peterson and junior guard Molly Kaiser are both averaging over 10 points per game for the Aggies. Peterson is also one of the team’s top three-point scorers and shoots 33% behind the arc.
New Mexico State averages 12.5 assists per game. The team leaders are Kaiser and junior guard Taylor Donaldson with 25 and 22 assists, respectively. Donaldson has the team’s single-game high with seven.
The Aggies have outrebounded their opponents in nine of their games. Peterson and senior guard Fama Thiam lead the team in total rebounds. Peterson has the team’s only double-double of the season, when she scored 22 points and collected the team’s individual single-game high of 13 rebounds.
New Mexico State has succeeded defensively, having held their opponents to a 40.4% field goal percentage overall. They force more turnovers than they give up and average 9.9 steals per game.
Despite a losing record through 12 games, the Thunderbirds have averaged over 68 points per game. Their overall field goal percentage lags a bit behind at 41.3%, but they have kept opponents to 39.1%. SUU has graduate guard Cherita Daugherty, junior guard Daylani Ballena, junior center Lizzy Williamson, and senior center Megan Jensen all averaging double digits in points. Williamson and Jensen are also shooting above 50% from the field. Ballena leads in three-point percentage with 41.5%.
The Thunderbirds are not afraid to pass the ball and have averaged 15.4 assists per game. This puts them in the top five in the WAC for this category. Ballena leads the team in overall assists and assists per game with 52 and 4.3, respectively.
SUU relies heavily on their rebounding, ranking in the top three in the WAC for both offensive and defensive rebounds. They average 43.9 rebounds per game. As the team leader, Williamson averages 10.1 rebounds per game which, accompanied by her points, allows her to average a double-double. Her five double-doubles means she has accomplished the feat more times than anyone else in the WAC.
The Thunderbirds are the No. 11 defensive team in the WAC, as they have allowed over 70 points per game up to this point. Their 0.8 assist to turnover ratio has heavily contributed to this, along with the 18.9 points per game they give up off of turnovers. Williamson’s height has given her 2.1 blocks per game, which has helped to somewhat control opponents’ offense in the paint.
Saturday’s game start is scheduled for 1 p.m. MST. It will take place in the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It can be streamed on ESPN+.
Story and photos by: Anden Garfield