NM State Falls 73-53 To St. Mary's

Tshilidzi NephaweThe Aggie men's basketball team had their four game winning streak snapped by St. Mary's on Thursday night falling 73-53.

The Aggie defense pitched a shutout through the first five minutes but could only build a 6-0 lead. The Gaels scored their first two buckets off of layups to cut the Aggies' lead to two at 6-4. The Aggies would lead the Gaels 11-6 after a three from Tyrone Watson. The Aggies would take a 16-12 lead after a Tshilidzi Nephawe three point play with 10:06 left in the half but the Gaels would get back-to-back buckets from Matthew Dellavadova including their first three pointer to take a 17-16 lead. St. Mary's would continue their run to take a 21-16 lead with 7:34 left in the half.

The Aggies would get a three point play from Christian Kabongo to draw to within two at 23-21 but the Gaels would answer with a three from Clint Steindl to go back ahead 26-21. After a fare throw from Christian Kabongo cut the Gaels' lead to 26-22 but the Gaels would answer with a 5-0 run to take a 31-22 lead prompting a 30-second timeout from head coach Marvin Menzies. The Aggies would pull to within five at 33-28 after a pair of Hernst Laroche buckets but the Gaels would outscore the Aggies 6-2 over the final 2:14 to take a 39-30 lead into the break.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/23/10

The Aggie women's basketball team lost their third straight game against high-level competition. Last night the Aggies just couldn't find the bottom of the bucket hitting just 27 percent of their shots compared to 47 percent for Utah. Given that disparity in shooting percentages it's amazing that the Aggies were even within six points late in the game and only lost by 10. One thing the Aggies were able to do well in the second half was get to the free throw line. They shot a total of 27 free throws in the second half and hit 21 of them. Those 21 points represented two-thirds of the Aggies' points in the second half as they hit just 7-of-32 shots in the second half.

Undoubtedly the sequence that best illustrated the Aggies' bad luck on the offensive end came with the Aggies down by seven, 63-56. The Aggies had three good looks at the basket on one trip down the court but were unable to hit the shot, Utah grabbed the rebound after the Aggies' third try and got a fast break bucket on the other end that resulted in an and-one. Instead of the Aggies being down by five, they ended up down by 10 after that sequence. That five-point swing pretty much killed the Aggies' momentum in the game.

Give the Aggies a ton of credit for battling back from an 18-point deficit in this game, particularly when the Utes were hitting just about everything in sight including 7-of-11 threes in the first half.

Unfortunately for the Aggies, they also lost a pair of starters in Camila Rosen and senior guard Danisha Corbett. Both left the game with knee injuries and their status is unknown. The Aggies do have a little bit of a break as they're off until December 30th when they face New Mexico up in Albuquerque.

The Aggie men's basketball team hosts St. Mary's tonight in the Pan American Center. The Gaels are the best non-conference team to grace the floor of the Pan Am in quite some time. They are one of the best shooting teams in the country hitting 50 percent of all shots from the floor. SMC is 9-2 on the season and as a team is hitting nearly 37.8 percent from three point distance. Mickey McConnell is a player the Aggies absolutely have to find tonight. He's hitting a ridiculous 49.1 percent of his three point shots and could be the best shooter (apologies to Randy Culpepper from UTEP) all season long.

The Aggies simply cannot let the Gaels get comfortable tonight. The Aggies will need to be very physical with St. Mary's on defense and make them work for every shot.

Offensively, the Aggies have to do a better job running their offense than they did on Tuesday night. It's going to take a mammoth effort from everyone tonight to come out with a win. They Aggies will have to play their absolute best game of the year and Gordo Castillo has to continue his hot shooting. Castillo has to score at least 20 points tonight in order for the Aggies to have a chance.

The game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff. There is no television coverage for this game (sadly) but the game can be heard on the Aggie Sports Network with streaming audio and video available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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NM State vs. Utah Game Photos

NM State vs. Utah Game Photos

Aggies Unable To Overcome Hot Shooting Utes, Fall 72-62

Madison SpenceThe New Mexico State women's basketball team dropped their third game in a row as they fell 72-62 to Utah on Wednesday night in the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.

The Aggies fell behind big in the first half as Utah shot lights out from three point distance connecting on 7-of-11 shots en route to a 41-26 halftime lead. The Aggies would slowly climb back into the game in the second half cutting the once sizable deficit down to just six points with just 3:41 left to play.

Just seconds later the pivotal sequence in the game occurred as the Aggies trailing 63-56 had three chances to trim the lead to five points but could not covert. Madison Spence would miss a short jump shot but the offensive rebound was grabbed by Tabytha Wampler who would miss a short putback, however, Spence would grab the offensive rebound but would miss the putback layup along the right baseline. The Utes would corral Spence's shot and outlet the ball ahead to Iwalani Rodrigues who would convert the layup and get fouled by Jasmine Rutledge. Rodrigues converted the three point play and the Aggies would trail 66-56 and would get no closer than eight points the rest of the way.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/22/10

The Aggie men's basketball team won their fourth straight game defeating Louisiana 82-76 last night. The Aggies gave up double-digit leads in the first half and again in the second half but found a way to pull out the game as Hernst Laroche found freshman Tshilidzi Nephawe for a slam dunk to put the Aggies up by four and then Tyrone Watson who managed to not foul out despite picking up his fourth with just under eight minutes left, stole the ball from the Cajuns and dished it off to Hernst Laroche for an easy layup to end the game.

There were signs of good defense but there were also signs of not so good defense. The Cajuns came into the game averaging 66 points per game, they scored 10 above that average. On the flip side, the Aggies forced 23 turnovers and turned them into 33 points. Unfortunately there were a few too many open three point looks and way too many easy drives to the basket (particularly in the first half when there was a stretch where the Cajuns scored on seven straight possessions and five of the seven were layups and one one of the possessions had a missed layup but the Cajuns were fouled on the layup and at least three of the layups right down the middle of the lane).

The Aggies also played a little sloppy on offense at times which contributed to the Cajuns being able erase the first half deficit. Bad offensive decisions led to bad defensive possessions on the other end during the latter stages of the first half.

The Aggies were also out-rebounded by a wide, wide margin (-25) and gave up an astounding 23 offensive rebounds. In fact, the Cajuns had as many offensive rebounds as the Aggies had total rebounds, 23.

That being said, at the end of the day the Aggies won. It wasn't pretty but senior leader Gordo Castillo stepped up his game, got some big buckets, hit 4-of-7 three pointers and scored 20 points. Since coming back from his injury, Castillo has found his shooting stroke. He's scored nine, 17 and 20 points and has done so while shooting 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from the field and 9-of-15 (60 percent) from three point distance.

We noted a couple weeks ago that the Aggies to that point in the season did not have a true three point threat with nobody hitting above 36 percent of their tries, however, Gordo Castillo has found his stroke (he's now hitting 40.7 percent of his three) and obviously he won't continue to hit 60 percent of his threes but if he can settle in somewhere between 43 and 47 percent for the season (we'd even be okay with a higher percentage), the Aggies would greatly benefit from that and would win their share of games, particularly when Troy Gillenwater, Hamidu Rahman and Wendell McKines are able to return.

Up next is a mammoth matchup against St. Mary's. The Gaels are by far one of the best teams the Aggies will have faced this season and potentially the rest of the season. The Aggie defense will have to be strong against a team that shoots over 50 percent from the field and has a couple of deadly three point shooters of their own.

The Aggie women's basketball team takes home court tonight for the final time in 2010 as they host perennial women's basketball power Utah. The Utes come into the game tonight with a 5-7 overall record but have played a very difficult schedule against teams from the Pac 10, Big 10 and SEC as well as a game against one of the very best mid-major women's basketball programs, Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The Utes are a big team with four frontline players at 6'3" or taller and another at 6'0". Their guards also don't lack for size with three checking in at 5'11" or taller. They have four players averaging double-figures in scoring with junior guard Janita Badon leading the way at 12.8 points per game. Fellow guard Iwalani Rodrigues is averaging 12.3 points per game and 6'4" freshman forward Michelle Plouffe is averaging 12.2 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game.

Rodrigues is also a serious threat from deep as she is hitting 50 percent of her three point attempts (29-of-58) and Rachel Messer is hitting 41.9 percent of her threes (18-of-43).

The Aggies will need to continue to play solid defense and as Coach Spence mentioned in this week's interview, they need to avoid the offensive lulls that have seen them either give up leads or fall behind by 10-12 points.

Tonight's game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff and can be heard on KSNM AM 570 in Las Cruces with streaming audio and video available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

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NM State vs. Louisiana Game Photos

NM State vs. Louisiana Game Photos

Gordo Castillo Scores 20 As Aggies Survive Scare From Louisiana, 82-76

Gordo CastilloThe Aggie men's basketball team held off Louisiana 82-76 on Tuesday night in Las Cruces as Gordo Castillo finished with a game-high 20 points including four three pointers. Hernst Laroche finished with 19 points and six assists but none bigger than his find of freshman Tshilidzi Nephawe with 14 seconds left to play as Nephawe took the Laroche feed and slammed home the dunk to give the Aggies a critical four point lead. The Aggies would cap the game with a steal by Tyrone Watson who fed the ball to Laroche for a layup as time expired to give the Aggies the six point victory and their fourth win in a row.

The Aggies built an 11 point lead six and a half minutes into the first half going up 16-5. The Aggies would maintain the 11 point lead with 8:34 left in the first half as the Aggies led 26-15 after a pair of free throws by Tyrone Watson, however, the Cajuns would go on an 18-6 run to take a one point lead at 33-32. Christian Kabongo would give the Aggies the lead right back with a layup but with 54 seconds left in the half the Cajuns would retake the lead on a jumper by Bryan Mbamalu. The Aggies would force an Mbamalu turnover with 30 seconds left to play and Hernst Laroche would put in a layup with one second left to give the Aggies a 36-35 halftime lead.

The Aggies would open up the second half on a 9-0 run to take a 45-35 lead with 18:14 left in the game but the Cajuns would again go on a run tying the game at 47 with 13:44 left in the game. The Cajuns would continue the run and take a four point lead at 53-49 with 12:06 left to play after a layup by Josh Brown but a five point run by Gordo Castillo on a three and a pair of free throws would give the Aggies the lead back at 54-53. The Cajuns would build their lead back to four points at 61-57 but the Aggies would retake the lead at 62-61 after a pair of free throws from Laroche.  Continue Reading This Post >>

bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Spence Interview :: 12/21/10

bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the loss to Arizona, another tough opponent in a game where you gave yourselves a chance to win late.
Darin Spence: Yeah we did and you're always wondering how your team is going to go compete against teams that are at that level. Arizona is by far the best team we've seen to date. They'll continue to have a good year. I was pleased, we got out there, we competed and we showed signs of being really good but the disappointing part is we showed signs of letdowns and mistakes at the wrong time. But overall there's a lot of good things that we can build on and move forward as long as our players take the right lessons from that game and apply it as we move forward.

It's still a loss though. No matter how good you feel about how you competed, we still got beat. That's something that we can't accept no matter who we play. It's something that we work hard to try not to do very much.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 12/21/10

The Aggie men's basketball team hosts Louisiana tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Pan Am and it's a chance for the Aggies to notch their fourth victory in a row. The Aggies defeated the Ragin' Cajuns in the season opener but that was a much different team than the one that takes the floor tonight. The scout will be the same but the players are different for the Aggies. Louisiana snapped a seven-game skid with a 68-65 victory over Larmar two nights ago. The Cajuns are winless on the road and head coach Marvin Menzies is hoping that their road woes will continue at least for one more night.

Louisiana has three players averaging over 10 points per game, however, leading scorer Josh Brown (14.3 PPG) in just six of the Cajuns' 10 games. Travis Bureau (10.6 PPG) and David Perez (10.2 PPG) are the other two double-digit scorers with Randell Daigle at 9.6 PPG.

It will be interesting to see how the Aggies fare on defense tonight. They've put together the best three-game stretch of defense we can remember in quite a while. Hopefully the Aggies can hold the Cajuns under 40 percent shooting and also hold them to fewer than 65 points. If they do both of those things, it should be another win for NM State.

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and the game can be seen on AggieVision, ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court. Radio coverage will be available via Aggie Access (subscription required).

As you may have heard the Connecticut women's basketball team takes the court tonight at 5:00 p.m. (MT) against No. 14 Florida State and with a win they will eclipse the 88-game win streak that the legendary John Wooden coached UCLA Bruin team put together from 1971-1974.

There has been a lot of talk about whether the Huskies' streak should even be compared to the 88-game win streak that UCLA put together. We are among those who think it absolutely should. What they have accomplished is phenomenal and they have done it against the very best competition that they can schedule.

We asked Aggie head women's basketball coach Darin Spence for his thoughts on the subject and this is what he had to say:

"I'm really happy for them. To do something for that long and sustain that level of play is remarkable. He's done an amazing job and along the way he has played the best of the best. He hasn't done it against a lot of guarantee games. He's done it against the Dukes, Baylors. People that want to be negative about that and want to say it's not as big as what UCLA did on the men's years ago can go jump in the lake. All you can play is who you play. The UConn women can't go play Elvin Hayes and Houston and they can't go play those Phi Slamma Jammas because it's men and women. It's the sport, it's the competition that you're looking at and how remarkable it is to sustain that effort at that high of a level.

I saw Geno's [postgame] press conference and he is so true. The people that really care about it right now are the ones that want to try to say something negative about it and how it doesn't match up to what the UCLA men did. It just goes to show you where we are. They don't want to give a women's program that kind of credit and they really deserve it. They've done something really special and he's built something really good and I hope they keep winning."

We also asked Coach Spence for his thoughts on what it takes to sustain that type of excellence over an extended period of time. Coach Spence has a bit of experience in that regard. He led Butler Country CC to a 117-47 record over the span of five seasons and then led Cowley County CC to a 171-26 record over the span of the next six seasons.

"It's what my junior college level was all about, we had to do a lot of the same stuff, my philosophy is when you're winning games, as the head coach you become a lot more stern. You become a lot more nitpicky, you demand more. The ones that really back off and think they're doing something because they've won a few games are the ones that set themselves up for failure.

As the head coach you may turn into a big pain the backside but there's a method to the madness. It's not that you don't care about the people around you, it's that you're focused and you have to keep everybody else focused. You just have to keep your foot on the pedal and keep it going. Sometimes the players don't realize what you're doing.

Kind of like Herb Brooks and the 1980 USA hockey team. He was on those guys, same type of thing. When you're winning a lot, those are the times that you put in new wrinkles to your offense and it forces your players to focus more and concentrate more. It's when you lose a couple games, that you loosen up and try to create a little more enjoyable atmosphere to help bring the kids through it but when you're winning, it's fun to win but it's a long drawn out process because just keep the hammer down and keep pushing forward."

So regardless of where you stand on the UConn/UCLA debate, we encourage you to watch the game (or Tivo it if you're planning on going to the Aggie men's game tonight which we hope you all are) and appreciate the history that will be made tonight, either the record will be broken with an 89th straight victory or the streak will end at 88 just like UCLA's did.

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bleedCrimson.net Weekly Coach Menzies Interview :: 12/20/10

bleedCrimson.net: Your thoughts on the big win against Pacific on Saturday night?
Marvin Menzies: I was very excited to see the kids come out and play with that level of passion and desire on defense. It was good to see and I'm hoping it's something that will be a signature for us going forward and will allow us to be able to play up to our potential.

bc.net: Tyrone Watson has been a player that really has brought a ton of energy to the starting lineup and Renaldo Dixon is a player that has really brought that same level of energy off the bench.
MM: We've done a good job of bringing in young guys and trying to develop them and turn them into the type of players that can win at a high level. It's good to get those guys quality minutes in their sophomore years and that will be something that will be a big plus for us going forward.  Continue Reading This Post >>