POSTED: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 11:43pm
UPDATED: Thursday, December 30, 2010 - 7:46pm
The New Mexico State men’s basketball team opened 2010-11 WAC play with a 74-69 win at Idaho. Junior forward Troy Gillenwater led the Aggies with 22 points after missing the last five games due to an injury. NM State improves to 6-0 in WAC openers.
Sophomore forward Tyrone Watson and junior guard Hernst Laroche added 12 points while freshman center Tshilidzi Nephawe scored 10.
The first half had six lead changes and the score was tied twice. The Aggies trailed the Vandals, 31-29, at the break. Watson and Gillenwater led the NM State offense with seven points each. Nephawe added six points.
In the first 20 minutes of action, scoring runs dictated the game. The Aggies posted a seven-point lead, 9-2, at the 16:38 mark when Nephawe capping a 9-0 rally with a pair of free throws.
After Idaho responded with an 11-2 run, the Aggies scored six straight to regain a 19-17 lead. NM State was strong at the free-throw line with both Watson and Nephawe hitting 2-of-2.
The Vandals answered with back-to-back baskets to reclaim a 22-19 lead before the Aggies utilized a 10-2 run for a 29-24 advantage with 4:15 until the half. Watson and Gillenwater combined for eight points in the stint.
The Aggies started the second half strong with a 9-2 rally that included seven points from Laroche for a 38-33 lead. Idaho inched back and the teams traded leads 11 times in the second half.
NM State turned up the pressure and forced Idaho to call a timeout at 5:12 with back to back 3-pointers from sophomore forward Bandja Sy and a Watson jumper. Idaho pulled within two points, 69-67, with less than a minute to play, but the Aggies didn’t give up the lead.