NM State Cruises Past Oklahoma Panhandle State 78-46

Tshilidzi NephaweThe New Mexico State men's basketball team's night started with a technical foul and a sluggish start but the Aggies rolled to a 78-46 romp over Division II opponent Oklahoma Panhandle State on Thursday night. Playing without injured forward Troy Gillenwater and center Hamidu Rahman, the Aggies led Panhandle State by 18 at the break and cruised to the 32-point victory.

The Aggies shot 48.3 percent in the first half that saw them score 38 points. The Aggie defense held OPSU to just 24.6 percent shooting for the game from the floor and just 33.3 percent from the free throw stripe.

Bandja Sy led the Aggies in scoring with 12 points and senior guard Gordo Castillo returned from a one-game absence, sitting out against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Monday night after injuring his ankle in the Aggies' loss to New Mexico on Saturday. Castillo's playing time was limited to 16 minutes but he managed nine points while hitting 2-of-3 three pointers.

The Aggies led early 8-1 after a fast break layup by Tyrone Watson but would trail OPSU by one at 14-13 after a three pointer from Steve Miller with 9:15 left in the first half but would outscore Panhandle State 26-7 the rest of the half to take a 38-20 lead into the break.

Panhandle would trim the Aggies lead to 16 at 46-30 with 13:49 left in the game after another three by Steve Miller but the Aggies would go on a 12-1 run over the next 3:49 to take a commanding 27 point lead. The Aggies would continue to add to their lead over the final 10 minutes as a Christian Kabongo dunk with 55 seconds left would give the Aggies a 78-46 lead which prove to be the final margin.

OPSU was led by Marcale Marshall with 12 points. Marshall shot 4-of-10 from the floor and hit two three pointers.

The Aggies out-rebounded OPSU by two 48-46 but outscored Panhandle State 32-12 in the paint. OPSU hit just 7-of-21 free throw attempts while the Aggies converted on 20-of-31 from the charity stripe.

In holding Panhandle State to just 46 points, it marks the first time since the 2003-2004 season that the Aggies have held consecutive opponents under 50 points.

The Aggies improve to 4-7 on the season and return to action on Saturday for the Lou Henson Classic where they'll host Pacific. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.