The New Mexico State men's basketball team dropped their fourth consecutive game losing 58-54 to No. 21 Utah State on Wednesday night. The loss dropped the Aggies to 8-7 overall and fell out of contention for the 2-seed and a double-bye in next week's WAC tournament in Las Vegas, Nev.
The Aggies trailed by six at halftime and struggled from the floor shooting 37.5 percent and just 2-of-7 from the free throw line. Hernst Laroche scored the first basket for the Aggies to give them a 2-0 lead and a jumper from Tory Gillenwater gave the Aggies a 4-2 lead. Utah State would take an 8-6 lead on a pair of free throws from E.J. Farris with 13:36 as neither team's offense could find a rhythm early. Utah State would go up by 14-9 after a layup from Pooh Williams with 8:29 left in the first half but the Aggies would go on a 6-0 run to take a 15-14 lead on a jumper from Tshilidzi Nephawe. Utah State would regain their five point cushion on a layup from Tai Wesley with 2:33 left in the half. The Aggies would get a free throw from Tyrone Watson with 1:24 left in the first half and Utah State would score on a jumper from Brockeith Pane to take a 27-21 lead into the halftime break.
New Mexico State would fall behind by nine early in the second half as a Tai Wesley layup would give the UtAgs a 33-24 lead with 15:59 left to play. The Aggies would answer with a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 33-29 with 12:02 left in the game. USU would get a three pointer from Brian Green to go up 36-29 but Gordo Castillo would hit back-to-back threes and Tyrone Watson would get a layup to give the Aggies a 37-36 lead with 9:51 left to play.
The Aggies would build a five point cushion after a pair of free throws from Troy Gillenwater with 7:33 left to play but the UtAgs would answer with a 5-0 run to tie the game at 43-43 with 6:30 left. A Castillo triple would give the Aggies a three point lead bu the UtAgs would tie the score at 47-47 after a layup from Brockeith Pane with 5:11 left to play. Utah State would continue their run extending the lead to 56-49 on a three pointer from Tyler Newbold with 2:13 left to play but New Mexico State would get a three point play from Troy Gillenwater with 1:46 left to cut the deficit to four. New Mexico State would get a dunk from Tshilidzi Nephawe off an assist from Hernst Laroche with 22 seconds left to cut the deficit to two at 56-54 with 22 second left but Utah State would get a pair of free throws from Brockeith Pane with 14 seconds left to make the score 58-54 and New Mexico State would not score again.
Troy Gillenwater led all scorers with 17 potions on 6-of-14 shooting but was just 5-of-9 from the free throw stripe. Tshilidzi Nephawe scored 10 points and grabbed 10 boards and Hernst Laroche also added 10 points. Gordo Castillo scored nine points all on threes while Tyrone Watson added eight points. No other Aggie scored in the game.
Utah State finished with four players in double-figures led by Brockeith Pane's 12 points. Tai Wesley scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds and Nate Bendall and TYler Newbold each added 10. Brian Green scored seven points and Pooh Williams and E.J. Farris each added four.
New Mexico State out-rebounded Utah State 31-27 but committed 15 turnovers while forcing 11 from Utah State. Neither team shot the ball well from three point distance with NM State hitting just 4-of-13 attempts while Utah State hit just 3-of-11.
Utah State finished the game shooting 50 percent from the floor including 61.9 percent in the second half. New Mexico State finished the game shooting 44.4 percent heating up in the second half hitting 52.4 percent.