Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State men's basketball team saw its 23-game home winning-streak snapped on Thursday night to Utah Valley, 84-72.
Despite the loss, the Aggies have secured the No. 2 seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament and will play the No. 7 seed on Thursday, March 9, at 5:30 p.m. (MT)/4:30 p.m. (PT) in Orleans Arena.
After both teams exchanged baskets to start the game, an 11-1 run for the visiting Wolverines (12-15, 4-8 WAC) forced Aggie head coach Paul Weir to call a timeout.
From there the Aggies (23-5, 9-3 WAC) went a 12-4 run of their own to take the 18-17 lead over UVU. The back-and-forth scoring between the two teams continued for the remainder of the half. The first 20 minutes of action saw nine lead changes and five instances where the game was tied – including the halftime score 43-43.
NM State opened the second half with a 5-0 run capped off by a 5-footer from Matt Taylor to take the 48-43 lead before Utah Valley and the Aggies began exchanging leads once more – this time with UVU leading 53-52 at the 11:58 media timeout.
Despite forcing UVU to commit 19 fouls, seven more than the Aggies at the under 12 media timeout, New Mexico State couldn't expand its lead due to it shooting just 9-for-19 from the free-throw line. The Aggies ended up 13-for-28 from the charity stripe at the end of the night.
Utah Valley forced the Aggies to call another timeout with 9:09 left to play after a 3-pointer from Ivory Young gave the Wolverines a 61-52 lead and 11-0 run. That run wound up ending at 19-0 and spanned for 5:48 before Taylor made his way to the rim with 6:31 left to play.
New Mexico State cut the UVU lead to 82-72 with 1:20 remaining, but it was too little too late as the Wolverines finished the game 21-of-27 from the free throw line – 12 of which came in the second half.
Ian Baker led all scorers with 21 points while Taylor chipped in with 11 points of his own. Braxton Huggins and Jemerrio Jones each had 10 points to round out the list Aggies in double-figures. Eli Chuha reached double-figures on the glass for the 14th time this season and pulled down 10 rebounds Thursday night.
The Aggies won't have much time to regroup as they host Seattle U in less than 48 hours on Saturday, Feb. 25, in a 7 p.m. tilt at the Pan American Center.
POSTGAME NOTES: The loss on Thursday snapped a 23-game home winning-streak for New Mexico State…it also snapped a 39-game home winning-streak in conference play that spanned all the way back to 2012 when NM State lost to Nevada, 68-60…the last time NM State lost 3-of-4 in conference play was back during the 2010-11 season…this is just the second time this season the Aggies have been outrebounded twice in three games and are 3-4 when outrebounded…the only other time was when NM State lost to Colorado State and New Mexico in the opening month of the season.