8:00 PM ET, March 7, 2007
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Cecilia Russell-Nava scored 15 points and New Mexico State beat Louisiana Tech 63-57 in the quarterfinals of the Western Athletic Conference tournament Wednesday night, virtually assuring an end to the Lady Techsters' run of NCAA Tournament appearances.Louisiana Tech (17-13) had been to 25 straight NCAA Tournaments, a distinction the Lady Techsters shared with perennial power Tennessee."We knew we had to win the tournament to get in," Tech coach Chris Long said. "We'll go back to work, we've recruited a lot of new players. The talent will be there."Louisiana Tech, which won three national titles in the '80s, lost five of its first seven games this season and knew it had to win the WAC tournament to continue its NCAA streak."We got off to a slow start early in the season, and there was a lot of pressure on the seniors," Long said.It's the second straight year the seventh-seeded Aggies (12-17) beat the tournament's second seed. Last year in Reno, Nev., NMSU beat Fresno State and made it to the championship game before losing to Louisiana Tech."This is a great moment for our program," Aggies coach Darin Spence said. "They're going to miss their first NCAA Tournament."Russell-Nava hit four 3-pointers and added six assists for the Aggies. Fellow guard Monique Bribiescas added 10 points.Shan Moore scored 17 points, Ty Moore had 11 and JoKeirra Sneed added 10 rebounds for Louisiana Tech.Trailing 54-50 with just under five minutes left, New Mexico State went on a 10-0 run to seal the win.The Lady Techsters shot 33 percent from the field for the game and went without a field goal in the final seven minutes.The Aggies fell behind 8-0 to start the game, but stayed within striking distance despite being unable to keep the Lady Techsters off the offensive glass. The Lady Techsters finished with 19 offensive rebounds, getting 14 of them in the first half.Despite beating the Aggies 47-35 in rebounding, Tech scored only six second-chance points."We got a lot of offensive boards, but we didn't turn them into points. We missed a lot of easy shots, specially in the first half," Long said.