POSTED: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 4:56pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 14, 2013 - 5:39pm
The New Mexico State men's basketball team opened the 2013 WAC Tournament with a 65-49 win over Idaho in the tournament quarterfinals. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings scored a game-high 23 points.
The Aggies (22-10) advanced to the semifinals and play the winner of the Denver/Texas State game, Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m. Mullings was 10-of-14 from the field for his ninth 20-point game of the season. He also added three steals. Senior forward Bandja Sy supplied 14 points and seven rebounds. He was 5-of-11 from the field including 2-of-4 from the 3-point line.
NM State shot 60 percent from the field (27-of-45) as a team. The Aggie defense was also effective and held an opponent to under 50 points for the second time in the WAC Tournament. Last year, the Aggies began the tournament with a 65-49 win over Fresno State.
After shooting 59.1 percent from the field (13-of-22) including a 3-of-5 performance from the 3-point line in the first half, the Aggies had a 32-28 lead at halftime. Mullings led the team with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Freshman center Sim Bhullar added five, while sophomore guard Terrel de Rouen contributed four points off the bench.
The Aggies started the game hitting the first 4-of-5 shots that included a 7-0 run to take a 7-2 lead at the 17:56 mark after a Mullings layup.
Idaho countered and led 10-9 at 16:37, but the Aggies scored the next six points for a five-point lead, 15-10, with 14:28 remaining in the first half. NM State wouldn't relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game. The Aggies largest lead of the first half was six points, 20-14, at 11:55 when Sy made a 3-pointer from the wing.
In the second half, the Aggies started the period with a 10-2 run to set the tone for the half, and NM State had a 42-30 advantage at 15:41. Idaho trimmed the Aggie lead to five three times, but NM State endured each Vandal rally.