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New Mexico St. Holds on 50-49


POSTED: Saturday, February 12, 2011 - 10:03pm

UPDATED: Saturday, February 12, 2011 - 11:00pm

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team escaped Louisiana Tech with a 50-49 victory to record its second WAC road win of the year after junior guard Hernst Laroche made two free throws with 12.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

NM State improved to 14-12 and 8-4 in the conference, while the Bulldogs fell to 11-15 and 2-10. The Aggies also notched their fifth win of the season after trailing at halftime.

With the Aggies down one, 49-48, Laroche drew a foul and sank both free throws to reclaim lead the 50-49. He finished the game with seven points, three assists and three steals.

Junior center Hamidu Rahman led the Aggies with a team-high 14 points. Sophomore forward Tyrone Watson and senior guard Gordo Castillo contributed to the offense with seven points each, while sophomore forward/center B.J. West provided six. NM State played without its leading scorer junior forward Troy Gillenwater, who suffered a sprained ankle in the game with Louisiana Tech in Las Cruces, Feb. 7.

The Aggies started the second half strong and quickly erased a five-point halftime deficit, 31-26. NM State scored the first seven points to take its first lead of the game, 33-31, on a Laroche fast break layup at the 18:38 mark.

The Aggies extended the lead to seven, 40-33, when Watson hit a 3-pointer with 12:56 to play. NM State controlled the advantage until Bulldog freshman guard Kenyon McNeaill hit back-to-back 3-pointers with 2:04 and 36 seconds left in the game to give Louisiana Tech a 49-48 lead.

After a woeful start to the game, hitting just one of the first 10 shots of the contest, the Aggies rebounded to end the half on a 9-of-16 shooting performance including four consecutive baskets.

Rahman paced the Aggies with 10 first half points after a monstrous dunk at the buzzer. Castillo added five points, and West contributed four points and a pair of assists.

The Aggies fell behind early and trailed by 11 in the first half before a 10-3 rally cut the Bulldog lead to four, 20-16, with two free throws from Rahman at the 7:46 mark.

NM State takes a break from WAC play to host Northern Colorado, Feb. 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the ESPNU BracketBuster.

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