Panthers Close Out Win Over Aggies At Free Throw Line
Nov. 30, 2013
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's basketball team went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 79 seconds to hold on to an 84-81 victory over New Mexico State University Saturday at the Pan American Center.
Senior Angela Rodriguez tied her career-high with 30 points and junior Macie Dorow set career-highs with 14 points and five rebounds in her first start of the season to provide the biggest spark in the victory in the final game at the Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic.
Freshman Sydney Snower also came through with four straight free throws with the game on the line in the final minutes, giving UWM the late lead it would not relinquish.
"It was such an exciting game," UWM head coach Kyle Rechlicz said. "I was telling our staff just how much fun it was to coach in that game. The energy, the excitement that we brought to an arena that is not ours - and we didn't have a lot of fans here, just a few parents - but we did it by ourselves. I felt like it was a full team effort, we really locked in, we bought in to exactly what we were trying to do with the game plan and I just couldn't be any more proud than I am right now."
Sophomore Avyanna Young added a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, with junior Ashley Green contributing 16 points and six boards in the victory. Snower finished with seven points and four rebounds in her second collegiate start.
Sasha Weber led the Aggies with 17 points. Brianna Freeman added a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Panthers (2-4) led by as many as seven points with just over five minutes to play, only to see the Aggies (3-4) force the 15th tie and 11th lead change of the day with two minutes to go.
Rodriguez hit a three to re-give UWM the 78-77 lead at the 2:17 mark, but the Panthers found themselves trailing again after two NMSU shots from the free throw line.
Snower calmly sank two free throws at the 1:19 mark to once again forge UWM ahead by a point. From there, Dorow grabbed a defensive rebound on one end and came up with a very crucial offensive rebound on UWM's next possession to force the Aggies into fouling with 11 seconds left. Snower again hit them both and, after a quick basket by New Mexico State, Rodriguez made it a perfect 10-for-10 day at the line when she swished both with just 2.6 seconds left on the clock.
"I had all the faith in the world that Sydney and Angela were going to make those free throws," Rechlicz said. "Sydney plays with a level of confidence, even as a freshman. Everybody stepped up. It was just really fun to be a part of this team today."
Dorow finished up her big day by securing a final steal on the last play when the Aggies tried to throw it the length of the court. Her 14 points doubled her previous career-best of seven points, with the 35 minutes played also a collegiate best.
"Macie earned every second of the time she had today," Rechlicz said. "We decided as a staff that it was the right move to make and she was ready for that jump. She went from playing 10 minutes in the Lamar game to 35 minutes today and earned every second of it. She hit some big shots for us and was really there for us on the defensive end. I'm just really proud of her and excited for her because I know how much this meant to her."
Rodriguez scored 30 points in a game for the second time in her UWM career, finishing 8-for-19 from the floor, 4-for-5 from three-point range and a perfect 10-for-10 from the line.
"I didn't even know she had 30 ... it was such a quiet 30," Rechlicz said. "The biggest part of her game that has changed is her leadership. She is constantly talking on the court and every person on the court believes in her."
Rodriguez's 200th career made three-pointer tied the game at 51-51 and UWM took the lead on a Green layup on its next possession. That helped cap an 11-3 run that turned a 48-42 deficit into a 53-51 lead. UWM would build the lead to as many as seven at 71-64, only to see the Aggies fight back before the final minutes.
New Mexico State held on to a three-point lead at halftime at 43-40. The first half was a closely-contested 20 minutes after a pair of early scoring runs. In fact, no team led by even three points the final nine-plus minutes following a 21-21 tie at the 9:19 mark.
The Panthers were hitting from long distance once again, making seven of 12 attempts in the first half, with Dorow pouring in 12 points by intermission.
Milwaukee led early at 8-5, but the Aggies responded, scoring nine points in a row to take a 14-8 lead at the 13:56 mark. From there it was UWM's turn for an extended scoring spree, with Dorow burying back-to-back triples to tie it at 14-14. That was part of a 13-2 run by Milwaukee, taking a 21-16 advantage on a jumper by freshman Bre'Zall Warren at the 10:25 mark.
For the game, Milwaukee shot a season-high 47.4 percent from the floor (27-of-57), including an impressive 50 percent from three-point range by making 11 of 22. Both teams shot well on the day, with NMSU finishing at 52.7 percent (29-of-55) while also claiming a slim 37-35 advantage on the boards.
All four teams finished the weekend with 1-1 records in the Aggie Thanksgiving Classic.
The Panthers head back to Wisconsin tomorrow and back to the Klotsche Center for a home game Wednesday. It's a special tip-off time of 11 a.m. against North Dakota, as the first annual "School Day With the Panthers" will be taking place that day.