NMSU Men's Basketball Uses Late Rally To Down CSU Bakersfield 63-58

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Down 50-44 with 6:36 left to play, the New Mexico State men's basketball team went on a 19-8 run to close out the game and dealt CSU Bakersfield, the defending Western Athletic Conference champions, its first loss in league play Saturday night in the Pan American Center with a 63-58 victory.

The win, fueled by a rambunctious Aggie (17-2, 4-0 WAC) crowd, pushed the NM State win-streak now to 15 games and only trails Gonzaga (17) and Kansas (16). It was also NM State's 21st-consecutive victory in the Pan Am Center and its 37th-straight win at home in conference action.

Both teams struggled from the floor early on as the Aggies and 'Runners exchanged leads six times, including one on a thunderous jam from Matt Taylor that gave NM State a 13-12 lead before CSUB went on an 8-1 run to take the 24-17 lead with 2:48 left to play in the first half.

A pair of free-throws from Jermaine Haley were sandwiched by buckets from Eli Chuha and brought NM State within 31-24 of the CSUB (11-7, 2-1 WAC) at the break.

New Mexico State slowly crept its way back into the game in the second half, bringing it within 42-38 at the 11:36 media timeout after Las Cruces native Joe Garza drained a 3-pointer from the elbow. Jaylin Airington completed his and-1 opportunity out of the media timeout to make it 43-38.

Dedrick Basile made it 50-44 in favor of the visitors when he knocked down all three free throws with 7:30 left on the clock. Back-to-back buckets in the paint from Jemerrio Jones, who finished with 13 points and 16 rebounds, started the 19-8 run for NM State.

The Aggie floor general, Ian Baker, then joined in on the fun and combined to score the next 14 points with Jones – giving New Mexico State a 58-53 lead with 1:23 left to play.

Following an easy lay-in from Jones, CSU Bakersfield's Damiyne Durham swished in a deep 3-pointer to cut the Aggie lead to 58-56 with 32 seconds remaining. Out of the CSUB timeout, NM State broke the 'Runners' press and found Braxton Huggins for an open lay-up.

On the ensuing play, CSUB's Taze Moore was assessed a technical foul that allowed to Baker to seal the deal with nine seconds remaining in the game. Chuha added another point when he hit the front end of his free throws for insurance as NM State came away with the 63-58 win.

Jones and Chuha combined for 30 of NM State's 46 total rebounds, including a combined 18 rebounds on the offensive glass. Chuha also finished with 12 points for his WAC-leading ninth double-double. Baker finished with 13 points, four assists and four rebounds to round out the double-digit scorers. Johnathon Wilkins finished with a season-high tying nine points on 4-of-7 shooting.

The Aggies now have a week off before wrapping up its three-game homestand against UMKC on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. for their Pack the Pan Am game.

POSTGAME NOTES: The last time NM State started league play 4-0 was back during the 2011-12 season…the Aggies are now one win shy of tying the 1968-69 squad for the second-longest winning-streak in program history with 16 (21, 1937-38)…NM State is now 12-1 all-time against CSUB and 6-0 when playing them at home.