Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
WACO, TX - New Mexico State shot over 61 percent in the second half and cut a 20-point deficit to just seven points with under six minutes to play, but the No. 23/22 Baylor Bears withstood the run and pulled out an 85-70 victory Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center.
The Aggies (7-6) were ice-cold at the start of the game, as the Bears (9-2) reeled off an 18-2 run in the first six minutes of the game to put the Aggies deep in a hole.
“We didn’t play to our level of efficiency in the first half,” said NM State head coach Marvin Menzies. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t play well early, but I’m proud of the way we battled back.”
The Aggies turned it around after the opening six minutes and outscored the Bears 68-67, but the mountain was a bit high.
Trailing 45-30 at the half, NM State allowed the game to get back to an 18-point deficit at 69-51 with 10:02 to play. But the Aggies wouldn’t say die.
Keyed by redshirt freshman Rashawn Browne’s jumper, the Aggies went on a 13-2 run and cut the lead to seven at 71-64 with 5:39 to go after junior Ian Baker nailed a top-of-the-key 3-pointer.
But Baylor quashed the NM State run as Taurean Prince, who was a nemesis to the Aggies all night, answered with a 3 from the elbow to take it back to 10 and end the comeback attempt.
”We did a much better job in the second half,” said Menzies. “We took care of the ball better and shot more than 61 percent. But 15 turnovers and down that big in the first half is just a big hole to dig out of on the road against a quality, top 25 team.”
The Aggies got 26 points and 10 rebounds from forward Pascal Siakam, who collected his NCAA-leading 11th double-double of the season. The 6-9 sophomore from Douala, Cameroon, also chalked up a blocked shot and shot 52.9 percent from the floor (9-of-17) while facing a tough inside game.
Baker, the Aggies’ 6-0 guard from Washington, D.C., scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, and added four assists and three steals in the contest. Jalyn Pennie added eight points with five assists.
The Bears got a career night from Prince, who scored 34 points and led Baylor with six rebounds. Ishmail Wainright scored 14 points, while Lester Medford and Al Freeman each posted 10 points.
The Aggies held the Bears leading scorer Rico Gathers to just nine points in the game.
NM State shot 52.2 percent from the floor for the game and an outstanding 85.7 percent (18-of-21) from the free throw line. The Aggies also out rebounded Baylor 31-27, but those numbers were undercut by 22 turnovers. Baylor suffered only eight turnovers.
NM State returns to Las Cruces on Thursday and will take Christmas Day off before starting preparations for Monday night’s game at Wichita State.