POSTED: Saturday, November 12, 2011 - 11:06pm
UPDATED: Saturday, November 12, 2011 - 11:43pm
The New Mexico State men's basketball team had a strong second-half effort to collect an 89-75 win at Northern Colorado in the season opener. The Aggies (1-0) had four players in double-figures.
Redshirt senior forward Wendell McKines posted his 28th career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his return. Sophomore guard Christian Kabongo scored a game-high 20 points, while senior guard Hernst Laroche added 13. Junior forward Bandja Sy also contributed to the offense with 13 second-half points including a 3-for-4 showing at the 3-point line.
The Aggies avenged last season's ESPNU BracketBuster loss to the Bears with a 14-point second-half advantage. NM State's defense was also vital in the final period and held the Bears to a 2-of-11 performance at the 3-point line.
Northern Colorado jumped to a five-point lead to start the second half, 46-41. Aggie hustle plays including a three-point play from freshman guard Daniel Mullings on a huge fast break dunk gave NM State a 51-50 lead at the 15:40 mark.
With his first 3-pointer of the game at 11:28, Sy provided the Aggies with a 58-56 advantage, a lead NM State wouldn't surrender.
At halftime, the game was tied 41-41 after the first 20 minutes that had four lead changes and eight ties. McKines posted a game-high 15 points with five rebounds. Kabongo contributed nine points on a 7-of-8 performance at the line.
Following the second media timeout at 11:34, the Aggies utilized a 7-0 run to take a 22-17 lead. In the rally, junior forward Tyrone Watson started it with a bucket and McKines added a three-point play and a jumper. The Aggies forced 12 turnovers in the first half, but Northern Colorado hit 6-of-9 3-pointers.
The Aggies travel to Albuquerque for the first in-state rivalry game of the season against New Mexico, Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.