Hernst Laroche hit a jumper with under two seconds remaining to lead the Aggies to a 70-68 victory over visiting Louisiana Tech on Monday night. The Aggies and Bulldogs entered the game tied at 7-2 in second place in the WAC just a half game behind Utah State and with the win the Aggies move into a tie for first place with Utah State.
The Bulldogs came out firing in the first half and quickly umped out to a 9-6 lead. The Aggies would cut the Bulldogs' lead to one point at 12-11 with 14:34 left in the half but the Bulldogs answered with a 14-0 run over the next six minutes to take a 15-point lead with 8:14 left in the half. The Bulldogs maintained the 15 point lead at the under eight minute media timeout. the Aggies would trim the lead to nine points at 33-24 with 3:05 left to play and over the final two miinutes of the half the Aggies would finish on a 9-0 run to send the game into halftime tied.
Coming out of the break the Aggies quickly built a seven point lead and led 40-33 with 17:07 left to play. However, the Bulldogs would answer with a 6-0 run to cut the lead down to one at 40-39 with 15:45 left to play.
The Aggies would once again build the lead up, this time responding with a 20-4 run giving them a 17-point lead at 60-43 with 9:33 left in the game. However, just as they did in the game in Las Cruces last season, the Bulldogs were bound and determined to make it an interesting finish. The Bulldogs quickly cut the Aggie lead down to four points with a 13-0 run over the ensuing three minutes as the Aggies led 60-56.
A quick Marvin Menzies timeout resulted in a layup by NM State's Jahmar Young to give the Aggies a six point lead at 62-56. The Bulldogs cut the Aggie lead down to two points at 62-60 with 4:07 left to play but what followed on the ensuing possession changed the complexion of the game. Jonathan Gibson rebounded a miss by David Jackson found Troy Gillenwater on a breakaway. Lousiana Tech's Kyle Gibson grabbed Gillenwater as he was streaking to the basket and the officials called an intentional foul. Gillwater would hit the two free throws to give the Aggies a 66-60 lead and the ball. The Aggies weren't able to get any more points out of the possession but the damage was done.
The Bulldogs didn't let the intentional foul affect their play as they once again cut the Aggie lead to just one point on a Jamel Guyton three pointer with 1:18 left to play. Troy Gillenwater answered with a dunk with 53 seconds remaining to push the Aggie lead back to three at 68-65. Jamel Guyton hit his second consecutive three pointer with 35.5 seconds left and the game was tied at 68.
After a Louisiana Tech timeout, the Aggie held the ball for what figured to be the final shot of regulation. With ball in hand, Jahmar Young took a jump shot with five seconds left but it bounced off the back iron, however, Hernst Laroche was there for the offensive rebound and with under two seconds left he took a jumper and hit it to give the Aggies a 70-68 lead with just over one second left. The Bulldogs quickly inbounded the ball but their desperation heave at the buzzer was wide and the Aggies held on for the win.
The Aggies had just two players reach double-figures in scoring as Jahmar Young scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting including 3-of-3 freom behind the three point arc. Troy Gillenwater scored 19 points for the second consecutive game and added eight rebounds. Jonathan Gibson scored just five points but had three rebounds and four assists. Hamidu Rahman finished with seven points and four rebounds but fouled out with 8:34 left to play. Hernst Laroche finished with seven points including the game winning bucket.
The Bulldogs had four players finish in double figures as Magnum Rolle finished with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting. DeAndre Brown scored 15 points, Kyle Gibson added 16 and Jamel Guyton finished with 10 points including the two late threes. The Bulldogs were just 8-of-18 from the free throw line on the night (44.4 percent) while the Aggies shot just seven free throws but hit six (85.7 percent).
The Aggies outrebounded the Bulldogs by one 38-37. The Aggies committed 16 turnovers which led to 24 Bulldog points. The Aggies forced 13 La. Tech turnovers and converted them into 13 points. The Aggie bench outscored the Louisiana Tech bench 25-2 as each team used just seven players.
With the win the Aggies improve to 15-8 and 8-2 in conference play. The Bulldogs drop to 19-5 and 7-3 in league play.