Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - The New Mexico State men’s basketball team had a tough time finding the bottom of the basketball Thursday night as it dropped a 72-53 decision to CSU Bakersfield in a packed Icardo Center.
Thursday was the first time the Aggies had suffered a loss since Nov. 18, a 72-59 defeat to New Mexico in Albuquerque. The 20-game win-streak finishes as the second-longest in program history, trailing just the 1969-70 Final Four team that won 21-consecutive games.
The Aggies (22-3, 8-1 WAC) had some trouble shooting from the floor in the opening stanza of the game, going just 1-of-6 from the floor at the first media timeout (15:06). After a 6-0 run by the ‘Runners, New Mexico State answered with a 6-0 of its own to cut the CSUB lead to 11-10 at the 11:46 mark.
However, CSU Bakersfield (16-7, 7-1 WAC) finished out the remaining 6:54 minutes of the first half on a 17-4 run and was 7-of-11 from the floor during that stretch. The shooting slump continued for NM State as it shot just 2-of-9 during that same stretch and headed into the locker room down 36-18 – the largest deficit it faced all season.
Eli Chuha opened the scoring for NM State in the second half as CSUB answered with a 6-0 run. The Aggies then headed into the 15:21 media timeout with a 7-0 run and trailed 42-27 after a deep three ball from Ian Baker followed by four-straight points from Chuha.
Down 46-27 with 11:55 left to play, the Aggies began chipping away at the CSUB lead at the line as Baker scored seven-straight points to cut the lead to 48-34. NM State got within 51-39 after a bucket from Tanveer Bhullar, but a wide open three from Jaylin Airington pushed the lead back up to 54-39 with 7:36 left in the game.
After back-and-forth action, New Mexico State got as close as 59-49 in the second frame after Jones hit the backend of his two free throws. But, a 6-0 run ensued for the ‘Runners to give them a 65-49 lead and never looked back.
Baker finished with a team-high 19 points, all of which came in the second half and was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. Jones finished with his ninth double-double of the year, posting 11 points and 16 rebounds.
Despite a 12-8 advantage on the offensive glass for NM State, they were edged 40-28 in the paint in the loss.
New Mexico State will now need to turn its focus towards Grand Canyon as it heads to GCU Arena for another ESPN3 broadcast game this Saturday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. (MT).
POSTGAME NOTES: The 29.3-percent (17-of-58) shooting for NM State is the lowest this season, the next lowest shooting night was at San Diego (.349)…the Aggies finished with just six assist on the night, the first time they haven’t reached double-digit assists since Dec. 13 at UTEP (9)…the loss also snapped NM State’s seven-game win-streak on the road.