Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
OREM, UT - Timely buckets from Ian Baker and Eli Chuha down the stretch late in the game lifted the New Mexico State men’s basketball team past Utah Valley, 74-69, Saturday night at the UCCU Center.
The win coupled with Oregon’s loss at Colorado, NM State now owns the nation’s second-longest active win-streak at 18.
The Aggies trailed early on to the Wolverines as UVU hit four of its first six attempts from 3-point range to take a 9-4 lead. New Mexico State then started to click offensively and took a 14-13 lead before Utah Valley responded with a 5-0 run.
It wasn’t until the ninth lead-change of the half before Utah Valley would fire off an 11-2 run the last 3:35 minutes to send the Aggies into the locker room trailing 38-31.
After exchanging baskets the first few minutes of the second-half, a 6-0 run fueled by Chuha brought the Aggies within 46-44 with 13:15 on the clock and then once again at the 9:59 media timeout – 52-50. Baker floated in the equalizer out of the timeout but NM State gave up back-to-back buckets, including a three-point play to Hayden Schenck with 7:44 left in the game.
Baker then brought the Crimson and White within 57-56 after connecting on the four-point play. Braxton Huggins then gave the Aggies their first lead of the game, 59-57, since the 3:35 mark in the first stanza when he drilled a triple with a defender in his face.
UVU regained the 62-61 lead heading into the final media timeout after Brandon Randolph completed a three-point play. Baker then hit the front-end of his two free throws, but missed his second attempt, which kept the game knotted at 62.
Jordan Poydras put the home team up two on a pair of free throws and then went up 67-63 thanks to a critical 3-pointer from Randolph. From there, it was the Chuha and Baker show as the two combined to score the final 11 points for NM State – including a pair of dump-off passes from Baker to Chuha in the low block.
Baker finished with a game-high 24 points, five rebounds and five assists with four 3-pointers. Chuha added his 19 points and 12 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass, for his 10th double-double of the year. Huggins finished with 11 points while Jones added 13 rebounds with his seven points. Jermaine Haley also chipped in with six assists on the night and five boards.
The Aggies will now wrap up its six-day road trip with a 7 p.m. (MT) contest against Northern New Mexico on Monday, Jan. 30, at the Santa Ana Star Center. For tickets, call the Pan American Center ticket office at 575-646-1420 or the Santa Ana Star Center ticket office at 1-888-694-4849.
POSTGAME NOTES: The 20-2 overall mark for NM State ties the 1989-90 team for the third-best start in program history…the win pushes the NM State road win-streak to seven, which is good for second-most behind NCAA leader Belmont (7) and tied with Winthrop and Gonzaga…Aggies moved to 6-0 when trailing their opponents at the half with the win Saturday…with the 16 assists tonight, NM State has now reached double-figures in 20-of-22 games.