Aggies’ second half struggles proves costly in 83-72 loss at Seattle U

NMSU

SEATTLE, WA (KTSM) — The New Mexico State men’s basketball team has had the deck stacked against them for what seems like the majority of the 2020-21 season and their struggles continued in an 83-72 road loss against Seattle U at the Redhawk Center on Friday night.

The setback pushed NMSU’s record to 4-5 overall and 1-4 in WAC play. Seattle U moves to 9-7 and 2-2 in league play.

Donnie Tillman led the Aggies with 16 points and nine rebounds, but was the only NMSU player to score in double-figures in the loss. The Redhawks had four players hit double-figures with Darrion Trammell leading the way, scoring a game-high 22 points. Trammell also dished out five assists.

The Aggies will look to settle for a series split on Saturday against the Redhawks. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN+.

Game Recap (Via NM State Athletics)

FIRST HALF
• Offense? Oh yes. Defense? Not a lot of it. That was the theme through a scintillating 20 minutes of action which saw the two WAC combatants combine for 92 points on a collective 54.2-percent (32-of-59) shooting clip.
• As a result of the scorching shooting in the Redhawk Center, the opening frame featured a combined 10 lead changes with the Aggies unable to grab their first advantage until C.J. Roberts converted on a hard-driving layup to make matters 20-18 with 12:47 on the clock.
• Seattle U drilled its first four shots to open the game on a 13-4 run, but the Aggies’ array of offensive performers made sure the Redhawks’ lead never grew to an insurmountable margin.
• Each time NM State was able to grab the lead, Seattle U struck back with frightening efficiency to reclaim it. The Aggies’ final lead of the opening half came when Donnie Tillman put in one of his two tries from the foul stripe to stake the visitors to a 44-43 advantage with 53 seconds left.
• As they had done all half, however, the Redhawks answered. Nate Robinson hit a driving layup three seconds after Tillman’s free throw make and Rip Economou closed out the home team’s 5-0 run over the last 50 seconds of the half with a corner three-pointer that put NM State at a 48-44 disadvantage heading into the break.
• Darrion Trammell finished with nine points for Seattle U at the half while Riley Grigsby added all eight of his first-half points during the Redhawks’ 13-4 run to open the game.
• NM State’s lead never grew to more than two points during the frame.

SECOND HALF
• A layup by Jabari Rice followed by a 1-of-2 effort by Evan Gilyard II at the free throw stripe pulled NM State within one point, 48-47, through the first 1:05 of the frame but that was close as the Aggies would come to regaining the lead.
• Grigsby answered with two free throw makes of his own before Trammell converted a jumper in the paint to close out the Redhawks’ 4-0 response.
• Seattle U’s margin remained at single digits and NM State pulled back within six, 62-56, after Kalen Williams connected on a long ball with 12:32 to go. Aaron Nettles, however, answered with a three-pointer of his own to push the Redhawks’ lead back to nine.
• Following Donnie Tillian’s layup that cut Seattle U’s lead to 65-58 with 11:28 to go, NM State managed to net just four points on one field goal make and two free throws through the next 9:28. Unfortunately for the Aggies, the Redhawks’ offense didn’t suffer from the same struggles.
• Seattle U went on a backbreaking 10-0 run featuring three-pointers by Grigsby and Trammell which pushed the home team’s edge to 17, 75-58, with 8:03 left.
• That surge proved to be one NM State couldn’t come back from and through the half NM State shot just 9-of-29 (31.03-percent) from the field and 3-of-15 (20-percent) from long range.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• NM State’s defensive deficiencies allowed the Redhawks to finish the night with shooting splits of .517/.500/.889. Though Seattle U cooled off significantly from long range in the second half (33.3-percent on 3-of-9 shooting), the Aggies’ offensive struggle in the second half allowed the Redhawks to prevail.
• Trammell, the reigning WAC Player of the Week, wrapped up his night with a game-high 22 points to go along with a team-best six assists. Aaron Nettles and Emeka Udenyi each contributed 12 points to the Redhawks’ cause while Grigsby added 10 and a team-high eight rebounds.
• Tillman turned in a team-high 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting for the Aggies and finished one rebound shy of a double-double by yanking down a game-best nine. No other Aggie finished in double-digits in the scoring column but Jabari Rice dished out a game-high six assists to offset his seven-point outing. It was the first time this season that Rice was held to fewer than 10 points.
• NM State’s five-game winning streak against Seattle U came to an end with Friday night’s result.

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