Written By: Bill Harty
Just over six thousand fans came out for New Mexico State’s senior night game against San Jose State. The three seniors were honored after the game with video highlights, the presentation of framed jerseys, and opportunities to each take the microphone and thank the fans who have supported them for four years. This was a special graduating class. Each of the three, guard Hernst Laroche from Montreal, forward Wendell McKines from Oakland, and center Hamidu Rahman from Somerset, NJ, scored over 1,000 points in their collegiate careers. McKines added over 1,000 rebounds, only the second Aggie to have 1,000 of each. Laroche is second in assists and steals in school history. Rahman is second in blocked shots.
Together, they went to the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Together, they have overcome the injury and chemistry issues that plagued last year’s team and continued through the first third of this season. McKines sat out last season after breaking his foot on the first day of practice. Rahman was injured early and played hurt for the rest of that season. Laroche has been as steady as any Aggie in history, starting every game during the four years, and only needing a few games to lead all Aggies in games played.
As is typical for senior nights, all three were in the starting lineup, and everyone was fired up. The game began with a dunk by freshman “sensation” Daniel Mullings, and the Aggies scored the first ten points. (Muliings had a triple double against Hawai'i last week, the only one by a freshman so far this season.) After that, the first half was fairly even. The Spartans got within four points a couple of times, but the halftime margin was nine. The Aggies played well in all areas of the game, shooting 52% to San Jose’s 39%, outrebounding them by five, and demonstrating a recently developed skill, having more superhoops than the opponent (four to three). Normal Spartan leading scorer Keith Shamburger was held to only two first-half points; forward Wil Carter had nine to lead San Jose State. Seniors Rahman (fourteen) and Laroche (eleven) led the first half Aggie scoring.
Halftime featured the induction of three individuals into the New Mexico State Athletic Hall of Fame. Honored were the late C. R. Bickerstaff, the school’s first trainer from 1955-61; Dave Lopez, SID in the 1970’s; and American football offensive guard Tony Wragge, who was all-Big West each of the last three years that conference sponsored the sport, and all-Sunbelt in the Aggie’s first year there.
The second half was spirited, with the Aggies called for three technical fouls on McKines, Rahman, and forward Tyrone Watson; Watson’s was a double technical simultaneous with one on Spartan guard Calvin Douglas. San Jose State played hard, but was outsized and simply less talented; this has been a rough season for them, having won only one conference game. Nonetheless, they only lost the second half by two points. The Aggie lead was never less than eight, and the bench players allowed the seniors to be recognized as they left the home court for the final time. The final score was New Mexico State 79, San Jose State 68. Spartan forward Carter ended the game with nineteen points, Shamburger added eleven, and guard James Kinney scored ten. Fittingly, seniors Rahman (twenty-two), McKines (twenty), and Laroche (eleven) led the Aggie scoring; Mullings added ten. Both Rahman (ten rebounds) and McKines (fifteen) achieved double-doubles, McKines’s sixteenth of the season.