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

NMSU

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.

FIRST HALF
• 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.

SECOND HALF
• 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.

COMING UP NEXT
• 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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