EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team had their chances, but couldn’t find a way to close in the final minute of regulation in their 69-66 loss to Utah Valley on Friday night at Eastwood High School. The loss drops the Aggies to 5-6 (2-5) this season.
C.J. Roberts led NMSU with 13 points off the bench, Jabari Rice added 12 points, and Wilfried Likayi and Donnie Tillman scores 10 points apiece in the Aggies’ loss. Jamison Overton led all scorers with 18 points for UVU, Trey Woodbury and Cole Evans chipped in with 15 points apiece, and Fardaws Aimaq pulled down 17 rebounds in the Wolverines’ win.
NMSU will look to get another bounce-back win and a series split when they host UVU in Saturday night’s series finale. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT at Eastwood High School.
Game Recap courtesy NM State Athletics
• After being held scoreless for just the fourth time in his collegiate career last Saturday in Seattle, senior Donnie Tillman came out on a mission to put the ball in the hole. The forward drained a fast-break layup on the Aggies’ first possession of the night and hammered home a one-handed slam on the team’s second.
• Tillman’s outburst represented half of the Aggies’ 8-0 run to start the game and NM State held a lead for the first 8:30 of the game before the Wolverines showed off their spurtability on offense.
• Following a Clayton Henry three-pointer that kept NM State’s lead at four, 15-11, Le’Tre Darthard bookended an 8-0 Utah Valley run with his two three-pointers in the game to hand the visitors a 19-15 edge with 10:57 left.
• NM State never grabbed the lead back through the remainder of the frame and were held without a field goal for a stretch of 5:32. That drought allowed the Wolverines to extend their lead to as many as seven, 29-22, after Fardaws Aimaq drained his only field goal of the game.
• The Aggies hit just two field goals in the final 7:30 of the frame, but stayed in it by limiting the Wolverines’ offense. Rice rimmed in two free throws at the end of the frame to cut Utah Valley’s lead to 33-29.
• The tandem of C.J. Roberts and Johnny McCants helped the Aggies reverse their fortunes through the first 10:20 of the deciding frame. Roberts put in six points through that stretch while McCants added five to help NM State open up a 47-43 lead with 9:40 left.
• Roberts’ three-pointer at the 9:40 mark allowed the Aggies to obtain their largest lead of the half, but it wouldn’t last. Utah Valley answered with a 6-0 run over the next 2:32 to go up by two. That run set up a back-and-forth next few minutes as the lead changed hands eight times from the 6:46 mark to the 3:00 point.
• Utah Valley’s Evan Cole threw down the second of his three second-half dunks to put the Wolverines ahead 57-56, but McCants answered with a rim-rocker of his own with 4:08 to go that gave the Aggies the advantage once again.
• Arguably the biggest basket of the game came from Utah Valley’s Trey Woodbury. His three-pointer with 3:00 left pushed the Wolverines ahead 60-58 and from there the visitors never trailed again.
• NM State had three chances to sink an equalizing three-pointer following Jaden McClanahan’s 1-of-2 effort at the foul line with 2:17 to go. Down 61-58, the Aggies watched Rice, Evan Gilyard II and McCants all misfire from long range before Utah Valley corralled a defensive rebound with 1:31 left.
• Down 64-58 with 1:19 to go, the Aggies’ comeback effort was led by Gilyard II who drilled two free throws and converted a tough three-point play that pulled NM State within two, 65-63, with 50 ticks left.
• After exchanging buckets, NM State fouled Aimaq with 14 seconds left. The Wolverines’ forward split his tries at the free throw line before Rice was fouled on his three-point try with seven seconds left. Though NM State did get an offensive rebound after Rice’s last free throw miss of the sequence, Roberts’ go-ahead three-point try with three seconds left was off the mark.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• Roberts served as the Aggies’ top point-getter, finishing with a team-best 13 on a 4-of-12 night from the field. Rice added 12 while Likayi and Tillman contributed 10 each.
• Likayi went an efficient 4-of-5 from the field and also finished with a team-best six rebounds on the night.
• Overton proved to be a problem for the Aggies’ defense most of the night as the shifty guard finished with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. With Overton manning things on offense, that let Aimaq handle things on the glass as the nation’s leading rebounder finished with a game-high 17 boards.
• Aimaq also dished out a game-high five assists with two of his most timely coming in the second half and leading to three-pointers by Woodbury.
• Woodbury, like Cole, finished with 15 points. He also helped the Wolverines shoot 57.4-percent (27-of-47) for the game.
• NM State had its chances time and time again, finishing the game with 16 more field goal attempts than Utah Valley, but the Aggies’ shooting splits of .381/.241/.550 just didn’t get the job done.
• The foul line was not kind to either team, but was especially tough on the Aggies in a one-possession final score. NM State shot just 11-of-20 (55-percent) from the charity stripe and collectively the teams went 22-of-44 (50-percent) from that distance.