The New Mexico State men's basketball team escaped Idaho with a 71-70 win after sophomore guard Daniel Mullings hit a free throw with 3.5 seconds remaining in regulation. The Aggies improved to 10-8 and 4-2 in the WAC, while the Vandals fell to 6-9 and 2-3 in league play.
With the game tied, 70-70, with 3.5 seconds left, Mullings was fouled while trying to inbound the ball. He sank the second of two free throws to give the Aggies the lead. Mullings was 3-of-4 at the line and ended with night with eight points and three steals.
Sophomore guard K.C. Ross-Miller had a career-high 16 points, and freshman center Sim Bhullar also had 16 points. Senior forward Bandja Sy added 14 points including a late basket in the final 10 seconds.
With a hot start that included hitting the first 9-of -11 shots, the Aggies had a 42-27 halftime lead. Bhullar led all scorers at the break with 11 points. Ross-Miller added nine points, and senior forward Tyrone Watson supplied eight.
The Aggies shot the ball well in the first half and was 50 percent from the field (16-for-32), 42.9 percent from the 3-point line (3-of-7) and 70 percent at the free-throw line (7-of-10).
Idaho scored first but the Aggies answered with the next seven points. NM State extended its lead to 23-9 at 11:54 with an 11-2 run.
The Crimson and White kept control and stretched the advantage to 17 points, 42-25, with a layup from Bhullar on its final possession of the half.
In the second half, Idaho's zone slowed the tempo and Aggie offense. NM State shot 45 percent from the field in the second half (9-of-20). Despite Idaho's second-half comeback, the Aggies recorded a season-low four turnovers.
The Vandals cut the Aggies' lead to eight, 52-44, at 12:40 with only their second 3-pointer of the game. Idaho's next triple at 8:09 pulled it within five, 56-51. The Aggies answered with a 5-2 rally to bring the lead back to eight, 61-53.
Idaho scored seven straight points to pull within two, 64-62, and the Aggies responded with a three-point play from Ross-Miller. The Vandals tied the game at 68-68 with a 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, Sy hit a layup with 10 seconds to go for a 70-68 advantage. With 3.5 remaining, senior center Kyle Barone was fouled and he hit two free throws to knot the game at 70-70.
The Aggies return to Las Cruces for a three-game home stand that begins with Utah State, Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m