NMSU Mens Basketball Defeats Cal Baptist 86-71

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

RIVERSIDE, CA - One of the only low points of the New Mexico State's 2018-19 season came when California Baptist - one of the nation's newest NCAA Division I squads - shocked the basketball fans around the WAC (and the nation) by handing their Aggies what would wind up being their lone league loss of the season inside the CBU Events Center.

A little over one year later - with that disappointing setback fresh in their minds - the Aggies made sure to show the Lancers who the class of the league is.

Ivan Aurrecoecha turned in his best single-game performance of the season so far by racking up a team-high 20 points, Jonny McCants and Trevelin Queen combined for 28 of the Aggies' 50 second-half points and New Mexico State started WAC play by avenging its only league setback of last season by hammering California Baptist, 86-71 Saturday night.

• With the exception of three buckets, all of the Aggies' first-half damage was done either inside or at the foul line. Looking to avenge their lone WAC regular season loss of the 2018-19 season, New Mexico State come out looking to drive the ball inside and with back-to-back layups by AJ Harris it was able to jump out to a 6-3 lead 2:03 into the tilt.
• Following a pair of free throw makes by Jabari Rice (two of the three foul shots the Aggies drilled in the opening frame), the Lancers opened up their largest lead of the half on the strength of a 6-0 run. Preseason WAC Player of the Year Milan Acquaah put the finishing touches on CBU's surge with a mid-range pull-up jumper that handed his squad a 13-10 lead five minutes into the half.
• Not willing to let Acquaah get hot, the Aggies answered the Lancers' run with an 18-1 offensive haymaker over the next 5:30 to put the home team on its heels. Leading the charge was Aurrecoechea who manhandled anyone the Lancers threw on him down on the block. The Spaniard registered nine of the visitors' 18 points during that surge and even connected on a straightaway three-pointer.
• Back in his home state for the first time this season, senior guard Terrell Brown put an end to the Aggies' scoring spree by drilling a fast-break long range right next to the Lancers' bench. That hit from downtown hiked the Aggies' edge to 29-14.
• Harris banked in a corner three-pointer with 7:20 left in the half to put the Aggies back up by 14 (31-17), but exited the game after suffering an ankle sprain. With Harris out of the picture, the Lancers made their move.
• California Baptist ended the half on a 20-5 run and took a 37-36 lead into their locker room at the break when Ferron Flavors, Jr., banked home a wild three-pointer at the horn. Acquaah pumped in eight points during the Lancers' run.
• Aurrecoecha amassed 14 points for the Aggies in the frame, but Acquaah countered with 17 on 5-of-9 shooting to give the Lancers a slim edge.

• Acquaah made it a point to get to the foul line four times in the first 3:02 of the half. The guard hit all four freebies to keep the Lancers in front, 43-42, but McCants and Queen took over from there.
• A steal and fast-break score by Queen ignited an 8-0 New Mexico State run that culminated with a powerful fast-break jam by McCants to push the Aggies in front 50-43. That 8-0 run ensured the Aggies wouldn't trail again, but New Mexico State wasn't out of the woods yet.
• Five times through the last 14:30 of the game, CBU cut the Aggies' lead down to five points. All five times, however, New Mexico State came up with an answer. Two of those answers came in the form of three-pointers by Brown who generated 11 points.
• Two things happened for the Aggies late - their offense came to life and their defense made things miserable for the Lancers. California Baptist hit only four field goals through the final 8:16 of the game and Aurrecoecha handed the visitors their first double-digit lead of the half with another strong move down low that made matters 71-61 with 6:12 left.
• Flavors Jr., kept it a single-digit game by splashing a jumper to cut the Aggies' lead to 78-69 with 2:58 left, but Queen called game after that. The senior hit a mid-range jumper and followed with a cold-blooded fast-break three on the Aggies' next possession to push the visitors' lead to 83-69 with 2:25 left.
• Acquaah was a non-factor in the second half, generating only seven points on 1-of-5 shooting. Queen, meanwhile, was 5-of-5 from the field with 14 points while McCants added 13 more for the Aggies who committed just three turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

• Aurrecoechea's 20 points represented a season-high for the senior and he finished two rebounds shy of a double-double by corralling a team-high eight rebounds.
• McCants and Queen finished with 17 and 16 respectively for the Aggies who shot .559/.467/1.000 in the second half.
• Another big reason why the Aggies emerged as the victors was their rebounding prowess. New Mexico State held a 36-26 edge on the boards including a 17-8 edge on the offensive glass. The Aggies turned that advantage into a 25-3 (+22) advantage in second-chance points.
• The Aggies extended their winning streak over WAC programs to 19 games - the longest in-conference winning streak in the nation.
• CBU got a game-high 24 points from Acquaah and 17 more from Flavors, Jr., in their first WAC setback of the year. Though they went 19-of-24 from the foul line, the Lancers couldn't keep up with the Aggies' second-half firepower.

• With their first WAC victory of 2019-20 in hand, the Aggies return to the Land of Enchantment next week for their first two home league games of the season. Thursday night at 7:00 p.m., Chicago State comes calling and will be going in search of its first WAC win of the season when it enters the Pan Am Center. The WAC Digital Network will stream that showdown nationwide