The New Mexico State men’s basketball team saw its five-game win-streak snapped on Wednesday at the hands of West Coast Conference foe San Diego 65-60 inside the Pan American Center.
NM State was slow to start the game and trailed San Diego by a point in each of the first three media timeouts. The Aggies finally took the 23-20 lead at the final TV break with 3:52 left in the first half.
The back-and-forth continued the remainder of the first-half with neither team able to find their rhythm. The Aggies shot just 34.5-percent from the floor while the Toreros were just 38.5-percent from the field as both teams headed into the locker room tied at 29-29.
As sluggish as both teams were in the first half, they were both just as hot in the second half. The Aggies (6-2) and Toreros each went 4-of-5 from the floor in the opening 4:15 minutes of action. After a pair of free-throws from Johnathon Wilkins, three-straight buckets from San Diego gave the visitors a 45-40 lead – which forced Aggie head coach Chris Jans to call a timeout – and never relinquished its lead.
After cutting the USD lead to 46-45, a pair 3-pointers by the Toreros (6-2) pushed their lead to 52-45 with 10:58 left to play in the game. New Mexico State slowly, but surely, clawed its way back into the game and tied things up for the 11th time, 56-56, with 4:23 left on the clock after AJ Harris went coast-to-coast on a steal and completed the and-1.
However, a third triple from USD’s Tyler Williams gave the Toreros momentum once again. Three missed baskets followed by an untimely turnover put San Diego ahead by 61-56. A 15-footer from Sidy N’Dir, who finished with a team-high 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, brought the Aggies within 61-58 with 1:46 left to play.
An offensive board by Eli Chuha saw the redshirt junior get the put-back and cut it within 61-60 with 28 seconds remaining. A foul on the other end of the floor saw Isaiah Pineiro knock both free-throws down and handed NM State its first home loss this season.
Jemerrio Jones was the only other Aggie to reach double-figures, scoring 14 points while pulling down 11 rebounds with three assists. The senior now has five double-doubles on the season.
“We had a couple chances to get the crowd behind us and get a little bit of a lead,” Jans said postgame. “And we weren’t able to do that. We switched our defense up there midway through the second half and I thought it helped us get back in the game. But, we were never able to get over that hump. The crowd was trying to get us over that hump. We couldn’t make the critical play to get the lead.”
BY THE NUMBERS
The loss also snapped a 17-game home non-conference win-streak…the last time NM State lost a home non-conference game was to Wyoming on Dec. 13, 2015, 62-59…this was the first time this season NM State lost a game where its opponents had more turnovers, it was 3-0 on the year prior to Wednesday’s loss.
The Aggies now turn their focus on Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico. The two rivals are slated to square off in Dreamstyle Arena this Saturday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. UNM is 3-6 on the year after its 75-57 loss at Colorado Wednesday night.