The New Mexico State men's basketball team cruised to an 82-64 victory over Hawai'i on Thursday night in the Pan American Center. The Aggies got a balanced offensive attack finishing with four players in double-digit scoring and three more players with at least seven points. The Aggies got a brief scare when Troy Gillenwater tweaked his ankle in pre-game warmups forcing him to sit out the first 14 minutes of the game.
The Warriors took advantage of the absence of Gillenwater and keep the game close trailing just 22-21 with 6:30 left in the half as Zane Johnson capped a 5-0 run with a three pointer. Hernst Laroche would bury a three pointer to answer giving the Aggies a four point lead and with 5:50 left in the half Gillenwater would make his first appearance in the game.
The Aggies, feeling a rejuvenation by the leader's presence, responded with a 15-4 run over the next three and a half minutes to take a commanding 40-25 lead. The Warriors would cut the lead to 13 on a layup by Vander Joaquim but Joston Thomas would miss an uncontested dunk that would have cut the Aggies' lead to 11 heading into halftime instead giving the Aggies a 40-27 lead at the break.
The Warriors' comeback hopes would take a blow early in the second half as senior center Bill Amis picked up his fourth foul with 17:21 still to play in the game. Without Amis on the floor the Aggies would extend their lead to 21 point with 11:54 left after a jumper from just inside the three point arc by Gordo Castillo.
The Aggies would continue to pile on the points building a 30-point cushion with six minutes left to play. Zane Johnson would answer with back-to-back three pointers to cut the Aggies' lead to 24, his first points of the second half. Johnson would finish with 14 points in the half and 25 for the game to lead all scorers but the Aggies would hang on for the 18 point, 82-64 victory.
New Mexico State added to their national free throw attempt lead with 40 free throw attempts in the game converting on 26 (65 percent). The Agies shot 49 percent for the game while holding the Warriors to 38.1 percent. New Mexico State out-rebounded the Warriors 43-34.
Hernst Laroche and Troy Gillenwater led the Aggies with 13 points apiece while Christian Kabongo added 12 and Gordo Castillo scored 10. Bandja Sy and Tshilidzi Nephawe each scored eight points, Hamidu Rahman added seven while Tyrone Watson and Drew Herig scored four. The Warriors had three players finish in double-digits with Zane Johnson's game-high 25 leading the way. Bill Amis scored 10 points but was in foul trouble the entire night and Vander Joaquim added 12.
With the victory the Aggies improve to 3-1 in league play and 9-9 overall. New Mexico State hosts San Jose State on Saturday night.