New Mexico St women win third straight WAC title 63-48
LAS VEGAS (AP) New Mexico State won its third consecutive Western Athletic Conference Tournament title Saturday, but coach Mark Trakh isn't sure the NCAA seeding committee will give his team the respect he thinks it deserves.
After the Aggies defeated Seattle 63-48, Trakh said he's hoping for something better than a No. 15 or 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament - not that he's expecting it.
''It's a perception, and it's a bad one because I think we're pretty good,'' Trakh said. ''They're gonna look and say WAC, eh, whatever. OK, 16 seed. I hope they don't do that. I think we deserve at least a 14 seed. We've got a 17-game win streak.
''I would hate to get a 16 seed. I definitely don't think we should play UConn or Baylor.''
New Mexico State (24-6) held Seattle to 18 points in the first half, then withstood an 8-0 run by the Redhawks to start the third quarter. The Aggies scored 12 of the next 15 points and pulled away.
Tamera William led New Mexico State with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Moriah Mack, who was named tournament MVP, had 18 points.
Wilma Afunugo had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Seattle. Kaylee Best added 11.
''They're here for a reason, and they validated what they did in league play and finished it off by cutting the nets down,'' Redhawks coach Suzy Barcomb said. ''We made a couple of little runs at them, but when you're playing that talented of a team, it's really difficult to practice and prep because they're so talented. They run so deep. We're just not there yet.''
The deciding moments came after Seattle scored the first eight points of the third period, culminating with a short jumper by Best. Trakh called for a timeout.
''I honestly don't remember what was said during our timeout, but it was probably along the lines of staying composed, getting it back together, playing hard,'' Mack said.
New Mexico State regained command of the game when William and Zaire Williams each hit three-pointers, putting the Aggies in front 41-27 with six minutes left in the third.
''They had 18 points at halftime,'' Trakh said. ''They would've had to score 42 just to get 60. That's a lot, and we figured we'd get around 60. It increases your odds of winning the game if you just do the math. Unless our defense totally broke down, it was going to be difficult for them at that point to win the game.
''It was important that we were aggressive because I know how aggressive they are.''
Last season, the Aggies won the WAC tournament but were a No. 15 seed in the NCAAs, losing by 22 points to Arizona State in the first round.
Trakh thinks his team's third consecutive 20-win season should be worth a higher seed. If it does, it might lead to the first postseason win in the history of the women's program.
''I definitely think we should get a 14 seed,'' he said. ''That'll increase our chances or maybe winning that first game.''
With 17 wins in a row, three consecutive regular-season WAC titles and three tournament championships, Trakh said his team has earned its legacy. ''Our kids made history,'' he said. ''They've done an amazing job.''
Seattle was picked to finish seventh in the WAC but finished runner-up to New Mexico State with a 10-4 record and 15-17 overall mark. The Aggies won the WAC with a 14-0 record.
New Mexico State: The Aggies will make their third straight NCAA tournament appearance but are still looking for their first win after four previous losses.
Seattle: The Redhawks will play in the Women's NIT.