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Aggie Men's Basketball Notches 20th Win Of The Season In 70-57 Victory Over Seattle | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

Aggie Men's Basketball Notches 20th Win Of The Season In 70-57 Victory Over Seattle

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Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State Aggies used a strong second half to grab the program's 29th 20-win season with a come-from-behind 70-57 win over Seattle U. Saturday night at the Pan American Center.

It's the fifth straight 20-win season for the Aggies, and the seventh in the nine seasons under coach Marvin Menzies.

The Aggies (20-9, 11-1) clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament with the win, while the Redhawks (12-14, 6-6) lost their third straight contest. NM State also picked up their 35th consecutive WAC home win, extending the nation's second-longest conference home court win streak.

"I was really pleased we were able to come out with a victory after playing so bad the first half," said Menzies. "Our defense force turnovers in the second half which led to our offense."

The Aggies shot only 27 percent from the floor in the first half and trailed 27-24 at intermission.

In the second half, NM State turned up the defensive pressure on the Redhawks forcing five turnovers during a 14-2 run in the first five minutes to grab a 38-29 lead and never trailed again. NM State got seven of the 14 points off turnovers in the run.

The Aggies built a 12-point lead midway through the half, but the stubborn Redhawks answered with a 13-5 run to slice the lead to 52-48 with 5:14 to go on a jumper by Brendan Westendorf.

Following a timeout, NM State responded with a 11-2 run over the next four minutes keyed by a Matt Taylor jumper to put the game away.

NM State finished the night shooting 36 percent from the floor (48 percent in the second half), while holding Seattle to 37 percent shooting. The Aggies forced 20 Redhawk turnovers and scored 25 points off those takeaways. NM State turned it over just 15 times and outrebounded SU 39-38.

The Aggies were led by sophomore Braxton Huggins who came off the bench with a career-high 22 points. The 6-5 guard from Bakersfield, Calif., scored 19 of those in the second half.

"Braxton did a really good job of making shots and free throws down the stretch," Menzies said. "He's been working hard to get his confidence back and it shows."

Sophomore Pascal Siakam scored 15 points and 18 rebounds for his 23rd double-double of the season. He's second in the NCAA in double-doubles behind the 24 of Egidijus Mockevicius of Evansville.

The 18 boards were the second most this season by the 6-9 power forward from Douala, Cameroon. He also blocked four shots and tied his career-high with four steals.

Westendorf led Seattle U with 17 points to go with eight rebounds, while Jadon Cohee pitched in 13 points and Jack Crook 12. William Powell pulled down nine rebounds.

The Aggies clinched the top seed in the WAC Tournament with the win by holding a two-game lead with two games to play over CSU Bakersfield – a team they swept in the regular season. CSUB beat UT Rio Grande Valley 70-57 on Saturday.

NM State also remains one game ahead of Grand Canyon with two games to play in the race for the regular season WAC Championship. GCU defeated Chicago State 67-52 on Saturday, but is not eligible to play in the tournament.

The Aggies wrapped up their regular season home slate with the victory and earned some much needed time off. After playing four games in eight days, the Aggies don't play again until next Saturday afternoon when they visit Missouri-Kansas City