Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Despite a tough shooting night, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team found a way to click offensively in the second-half and grinded out a 71-56 win over Seattle U in Key Arena for its 17th-consecutive victory.
The 17 wins remain tied with Oregon for the nation’s second-longest active win-streak and trails just Gonzaga (21).
“Seattle does a really good job in their zone and they really make you think that there’s some things there and then they’re not there,” Aggie head coach Paul Weir said.
Both teams struggled offensively to start there game, going 1-for-6 from the floor at the 15:29 media timeout with NM State (19-2, 6-0 WAC) leading the home team 5-2.
The Redhawks (9-11, 1-4 WAC) took a 9-8 lead that was short-lived as back-to-back buckets from Jemerrio Jones put the Aggies back on top 12-9 with 11:38 remaining in the opening frame. A few minutes later, NM State reeled off a 9-2 run capped off by a corner three from Jermaine Haley pushed the lead to 21-12.
New Mexico State finished out the remainder of the half leading Seattle U 31-20, despite shooting 34.4-percent (11-of-32) from the floor and 2-of-11 from downtown.
After an opening basket from Haley, Seattle U went on a 7-0 to cut the Aggie lead 34-27 before NM State responded with a 6-0 run of its own. However, the Redhawks answered right back with a 6-0 run of their own before back-to-back baskets from Ian Baker and Eli Chuha gave NM State the 46-36 lead.
The shooting slump for NM State continued as Seattle U chipped away at the Aggie lead and got within 54-50 of NM State after a 3-pointer from Matej Kavas with 5:03 left to play.
Kavas knocked down a pair of free-throws out of the timeout to bring SU within 50-47 before the duo of Jones and Chuha rattled off the next 16 points for NM State to push its lead back up to 66-54 with 1:11 left in the game.
“I thought we did a much better job of finally feeding the post and playing through that and taking what they give us,” Weir said. “We got the ball inside and we were able to play through the post a little bit, which got us some easy looks.”
The Aggies closed out the remainder of the game at the charity stripe as Baker and Chuha combined for seven free-throws in the final 1:11 of action.
Baker recorded just the third double-double of his career with 19 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Jones wrapped up with his seventh double-double of the season, pouring in 16 points on 10 boards in addition to five assists and two steals. Chuha exploded late in the game, scoring 12 of his 14 points with Haley adding 10 points of his own.
The Aggies now head to Orem, Utah, for a 7 p.m. tip-off against Utah Valley on Saturday, Jan. 28, as they look to remain perfect in conference play on the WAC Digital Network.
POSTGAME NOTES: The 19-2 overall mark for NM State ties the 1990-91 team for the fourth-best start in program history…the win pushes the NM State road win-streak to six, which is good for second-most behind NCAA leader Belmont (7) and tied with Florida Gulf Coast and Gonzaga…Aggies have now won five-straight against the Redhawks…with 19 assists tonight, NM State has reached double-figures in the assists category in 19-of-21 games this season…the 19 dimes for NM State is the second-most this season (22, at Arizona State) and the third time its hit that mark…the 10 steals tonight is the most this season for NM State and the first time its reached double-digits in this category.