NMSU Men's Basketball Dominates Grand Canyon 89-57 To Win Third Consecutive WAC Tournament Title

Photo Credit: Mark Nessia

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DOMINANT. Which was what 3,598 fans inside Orleans Arena saw Saturday night as the New Mexico State men’s basketball team drilled Grand Canyon 89-57 in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game behind a dominating performance from Trevelin Queen to punch its ticket to the Big Dance for the 22nd time in program history.

With the win, the Aggies have now laid claim to seven of the last eight WAC Tournament titles and nine conference tournament titles total the last 14 years. NM State also moved to 32-5 all-time in the conference tournament and 22-3 all-time at Orleans Arena.

New Mexico State moved to 30-4 overall on the year and extended its program record for wins in a season. In addition, the 19-game winning-streak for NM State now ties Wofford for the longest active streak in the country.

Grand Canyon (20-13) got off to a hot start, jumping out to an 8-0 run against the Aggies before AJ Harris was able to get to the rack for NM State’s first points at the 15:20 mark. NM State was able to weather that storm to start the game and scored on four-straight possessions, three of which came from Ivan Aurrecoechea to bring the Aggies within 18-14 of GCU at the 11:12 media break.

Another 12-3 run by the Aggies gave them the 26-21 lead and forced the Lopes to call a timeout with 8:43 left in the first half. During the rally back, NM State scored on 9-of-10 consecutive possessions before JoJo Zamora missed a 3-pointer with the shot-clock expiring at the 7:55 mark.

NM State then finished out the remaining 3:46 of the first-half on a 9-5 run after a late 3-pointer from Carlos Johnson brought GCU within 41-30 of the Aggies. Queen erupted in the first-half for NM State with 16 points on 4-of-7 from 3-point range while Aurrecoechea went 5-of-5 in the paint for 12 points to pace the Aggies.

The second-half starting off in a hurry for both teams, exchanging blows on the offensive end before GCU went on a 6-0 spurt to close within 49-40 at the 16:07 mark.

However, that was the last fight the Lopes had in them as staunch defense and an offensive clinic by the Aggies saw NM State essentially put the game away with a 27-8 run entering the 7:36 media break with a 76-48 advantage.

One-by-one, Aggie head coach Chris Jans began to sub out his starters and concluded with redshirt senior Eli Chuha with 1:56 left to go – earning him a standing ovation from the sea of Crimson.

Queen finished the night with a career-high 27 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point land, four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Meanwhile, Aurrecoechea added 16 points of his own on 7-of-9 shooting with seven boards. Clayton Henry rounded out the list of players in double-figures with 14 points on 4-of-7 from downtown.

BY THE NUMBERS
NM State finished its dominating performance with a .508 clip from the field as a team and .436 clip from 3-point range…the 17 threes NM State hit was a new WAC Tournament record as well as its 39 attempts…NM State’s bench was once again a huge, outscoring the GCU bench 50-9…Aggies also dominated the glass against Grand Canyon Saturday night with a 47-28 edge.

QUOTABLE
“I think the theme of the night was keep coming at them in waves,” New Mexico State coach Chris Jans said. “We’ve been playing a lot of guys all year long. We talked a lot in the last 24 hours that we’re built for this. Our team is built for three games in three days.”

UP NEXT
With its ticket punched, New Mexico State now waits and see who it’ll play and where for the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament. A selection show party will be held for the Aggie men’s basketball program inside the Barbara Hubbard Room located in the Pan American Center Annex from 4-5 p.m. (MT) as CBS airs the national broadcast of the bracket reveal by the NCAA Men’s Basketball Committee.