Aggies start WAC play on right foot with 78-61 win over Chicago State


LAS CRUCES, N.M. – New year, same result – an NM State win. 

A 17-4 run through the first 5:41 of the deciding frame helped NM State shake off a slow start and earn a 78-61 victory over Chicago State in the Aggies’ WAC opener Saturday evening inside the Pan American Center.

Up just 30-26 at the half, the Aggies’ second-half surge was the difference and allowed them to extend their winning streak to seven games while emerging as the victors in their first WAC home game in 667 days.

• Johnny McCants laced a three-pointer on the Aggies’ opening possession, but that was one of just four long balls the home team put in through the first 20 minute of action.
• With their shots not dropping at a high rate, the Aggies watched Chicago State keep things close throughout the majority of the half. The Cougars managed to obtain their largest lead of the game, 16-13, after embarking on a 7-0 run following a three-pointer off the mitts of Clayton Henry.
• Jahsean Corbett concluded that surge with a mid-range jumper with 8:28 to go in the half before NM State used the free throw line to regain the lead.
• McCants, Donnie Tillman and Mario McKinney Jr., each put in a pair of shots from the charity stripe on consecutive possessions which allowed NM State to open up a 19-16 lead with 5:35 left.
• A string of five-straight Chicago State points scored by Brandon Betson countered the Aggies’ scoring surge from the foul stripe. His runner in the paint with 4:59 to go pushed the Cougars ahead 21-19 before the insertion of Nate Pryor into the game pair off almost immediately.
• The junior guard out of Seattle, Wash., bounced in a difficult floater in the lane before dishing to Teddy Allen for a fast-break long ball that broke a 21-21 deadlock with 4:03 remaining in the half.
• Pryor’s play kick-started an 11-3 NM State surge which culminated with a one-handed driving slam dunk by Allen off of a touch pass from Pryor. The throw down made the Aggies’ lead 30-24 with 1:28 left in the half. Coreyoun Rushin ended the first-half scoring by converting a put-back layup that cut the Aggies’ lead to 30-26 with 1:19 to go.
• Chicago State remained within striking distance by shooting 9-of-22 (40.9-percent) from the field. The Cougars’ defensive efforts limited NM State to a shooting clip of 28.6-percent (8-of-28) in the initial stanza. NM State, though, did go 10-of-11 from the foul stripe in the half to help them go into their locker room with the lead.

• Each of the first 11 points in the final frame were scored by the home team as the Aggies opened things up through the first 3:20. Three-pointers by Allen and Jabari Rice on consecutive possessions capped off the 11-0 run and put the Aggies’ lead at 15, 41-26.
• At no points in the second half did the hosts’ lead dip below 15 points. The Aggies’ edge ballooned to as many as 27 points, 70-43, after Rice drilled two free throws with 4:29 left.
• NM State solved its shooting woes during its halftime meeting, connecting on 58.1-percent (18-of-31) of its shots through the final 20 minutes. The result was a 48-35 scoring edge in the final frame which allowed the home team to cruise to victory.
• Freshman Marchelus Avery scored all 11 of his points in the second half, going 5-of-6 from the field in 10:30 of action.
• Chicago State, meanwhile, shot just 34.3-percent (12-of-35) through the second half thanks to some inspired defense by the hosts.

• The Lone Star State is the Aggies’ destination as they hit the road next week for a pair of WAC engagements. First up in that two-game stretch is a visit to Beaumont, Texas, for a first-time showdown with WAC newbie Lamar. Tip-off inside the Montagne Center is set for 6:00 p.m. MT.

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