Aggie Men's Basketball Rolls To 78-64 Win Over UMKC, Advances To WAC Title Game

Photos of the men's semifinal game between No. 1 NM State and No. 5 Missouri-Kansas City. (Photos by Mark Nessia)

Posted by Western Athletic Conference on Friday, March 11, 2016

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS VEGAS, NV - The New Mexico State Aggies used a powerful 1-2 combination of junior Ian Baker and sophomore Pascal Siakam to go with a strong defensive performance to roll past Missouri-Kansas City 78-64 in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament at the Orleans Arena.

The Aggies (23-9), the back-to-back WAC Champion and winners of four straight WAC Tournaments, advance to the championship game. UMKC ends the season at 12-18.

Baker led the Aggies with 20 points, while Siakam scored 18 points with 11 rebounds to chalk up his 26th double-double of the season.

“It was a great effort by the guys,” said NM State head coach Marvin Menzies. “I thought we came out with the effort necessary to throw the first punch, so to speak. It was our execution on defense and our aggressiveness on missed shots that made the difference.”

“We scored from a lot of different ways, from the free throw line and from the perimeter. It makes for a good recipe.”

The Aggies jumped out to an early six point lead only to have the ’Roos battle back.

UMKC got its only lead of the game on a pair of Martez Harrison free throws with 9:36 left in the first to go up 21-20. In retrospect, that just made the Aggies mad.

NM State got a Siakam jumper 26 seconds later, his only points of the first half, to start a 22-5 run that ran to intermission. NM State went to the locker room up 16 at 42-26 and never looked back.

The Aggies built up a 23-point lead with 8:56 to play before the ’Roos made a small run cut it back to 14-point decision.

For Baker, the 20-point game was his fifth of the season but the first since scoring 21 at Baylor in December. Siakam got 16 of his 18 points in the second half.

Joining the pair were sophomores Jalyn Pennie and Braxton Huggins who each hit 3-of-4 from the 3-point arc. Pennie finished with 13 points, while Huggins tallied 11.

Sophomore Tanveer Bhullar scored only five points, but grabbed nine rebounds.

UMKC got 23 points from LaVell Boyd, while Martez Harrison and Kyle Steward both scored 15 points five rebounds.

The Aggies shot 44.2 percent from the floor and held UMKC to just 41.2 percent shooting. NM State outrebounded the ’Roos 40-28 and suffered only nine turnovers.

NM State plays for its fifth consecutive tournament title on Saturday against No. 2 seed CSU Bakersfield who beat Seattle U 72-47 in the second semifinal.