It was a lovely night at the Pan American Center Thursday night as the New Mexico State men’s basketball team picked up its 10th-straight victory with an 84-77 win over Utah Valley on Valentine’s Day.
Utah Valley struck first to open the game thanks to Benjamin Nakwaasah before Terrell Brown scored NM State’s first bucket 10 seconds later. The Aggies (21-4, 10-1) only had a small 6-5 lead at the first media break 4:24 into the game before JoJo Zamora began to light it up.
The Wolverines (16-8, 5-4 WAC) took an 11-6 lead after Wyatt Lowell hit back-to-back shots before Nakwaasah made it 16-13 in favor of the bad guys. Zamora tied things up heading into the 11:16 media break with a big pull-up triple on the fastbreak.
The redshirt-junior wasn’t done and drilled back-to-back 3-pointers after the break to give NM State the 27-22 lead with 7:34 left in the first-half
New Mexico State continued to shoot well from 3-point range with C.J. Bobbitt joining in on the fun before Zamora banged in his fifth 3-pointer of the half to push the lead to 37-31. Trevelin Queen’s baseline jam gave the Aggies 39-34 lead before Wyatt Lowell brought the Wolverines within 39-37 of NM State with a triple of his own.
Zamora finished the first 20 minutes of action with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting – five of which came from beyond the 3-point line.
The second-half started with Clayton Henry’s corner three sandwiched between a pair of baskets from Eli Chuha – the second coming via a pass from Brown for the two-handed jam and 46-37 lead.
Both teams exchanged baskets the next five-plus minutes before a 5-0 spurt from UVU got it within 56-52 of the Aggies. However, Chuha answered with six-straight points followed by a 3-pointer from Brown to cap off the 9-0 run and 65-54 lead with 7:26 left to play.
Chuha continued to kill Utah Valley in the paint, scoring 19 of his 21 points in the second-half. The Redlands, Calif., product kept giving the Aggies critical baskets down in the post to answer each UVU basket down the stretch.
Brown found his way into the paint and put the Aggies ahead 75-65 with 1:28 to go after Nakwaasah hit a 3-pointer followed by a timeout from UVU. NM State then hit 7-of-8 from the charity strip between four different players in the last 1:10 of the game sealed the victory.
Chuha finished with a game-high 21 points on 10 boards for his sixth double-double of the season while Zamora had 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Queen added 13 points of his own, nine of which came in the second frame. Henry nearly had a double-double of his own, posting 11 points and nine rebounds while Brown rounded out the list of double-digit scorers with 11 points and five boards of his own.
BY THE NUMBERS
NM State has now recorded a 10-game win-streak in three-consecutive season as well as four of the last five…Chuha now has six double-doubles on the year with four coming in league play…he’s also led the team in rebounding a dozen times this season, eight of which came in WAC play…NM State’s speed gave it a 15-5 edge in fastbreak points Thursday night…the last time NM State had five players register double-digit points was against CSUN (Dec. 19)…with his 21 points tonight, Chuha is now 28 points shy of becoming the 35th player in Aggie history to record 1,000 career points.
NM State remains home and plays host to Seattle U at 7 p.m. (MT) on Saturday, Feb. 16, for its annual Pack the Pan Am game. Limited tickets remain and fans are encouraged to buy tickets on Friday before the game is sold out by visiting the Pan American Center o by calling 575-646-1420.