POSTED: Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 8:31pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 10, 2011 - 11:46pm
In the 2011 WAC Tournament Quarterfinals, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated Nevada, 66-60. The Aggies (16-16) meet No. 2 seed Boise State, Friday, March 11 at 10 p.m. on ESPN2. NM State advanced to the tournament semifinals for the sixth consecutive season.
Junior forward Troy Gillenwater scored a game-high 18 points along with a season-high four blocked shots. Senior guard Gordo Castillo added 14 points, which included a 10-of-10 performance at the free-throw line. Junior guard Hernst Laroche was also in double-digits with 11.
The Aggies used a strong second-half effort to eliminate Nevada from the WAC Tournament for the second straight year. NM State erased a four-point halftime deficit seven minutes into the second half with a three-point play from Gillenwater that tied the game at 40-40 at the 13:05 mark.
NM State claimed its first lead of the game, 43-40, with three free throws from Castillo with 12:13 to play. The Aggies maintained the lead until junior guard Malik Story hit a jumper at 8:47 to give Nevada a 46-45 advantage.
The game then had three lead changes and three ties with the Wolf Pack posting a five-point lead, 54-49, with 5:22 remaining. The Aggies didn’t panic and utilized an 8-0 run to take a three-point lead, 57-54, with 2:56 to play.
The rally included three-point plays from Gillenwater that tied the game at 54-54 and Castillo that gave the Aggies the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Aggies shot 82.4 percent (28-for-34) from the free-throw line as a team. In the final two minutes of action, NM State was 6-of-8 at the line. Castillo and Laroche combined for six free throws in that span.
At halftime, the Aggies trailed Nevada, 31-27, with Gillenwater posting a team-high nine points. Sophomore forward/center B.J. West added seven points, while sophomore forward Tyrone Watson and freshman guard Christian Kabongo supplied four each.
After a slow start, the Aggies fell behind 9-0 at the 16:10 mark. The NM State bench sparked the team with its own 9-0 rally that included five consecutive points from West. The Aggies tied the game at 9-9 with 11:45 to play in the first half with a Kabongo dunk.
The Wolf Pack regained the lead and extended it to nine points, 21-12, at the 6:44 mark. A steal and layup from Kabongo cut the lead to three, 28-25, with 1:51 to play in the first half.