SPOKANE, WA (KTSM) – Down by 14 points early in the second half, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team battled back and cut Washington State’s lead down to two points, but the Aggies were unable to complete their comeback and dropped a 63-54 decision to the Cougars Saturday afternoon inside the Spokane Arena.
The Aggies, who finished the 2018-2019 season 30-5, are now 5-5 on the season.
• A second-chance layup by Trevelin Queen started the game, but Washington State scored the next eight to jump ahead by six Aljaz Kunc sank a pair of corner threes for the Cougars to answer Queen’s put-back score.
• Over the next three minutes, the Aggies went on a 9-0 run to take their largest lead of the game. Shunn Buchanan started that run with a three-pointer and Queen finished it with a breakaway dunk that put his team up 11-8 with 12:32 remaining in the frame. Isaac Bonton answered Queen’s throwdown with an equalizing three-pointer to pull Washington State even.
• C.J. Bobbitt buried a corner three-pointer that pushed the Aggies back on top, 14-11, with 9:42 to go in the frame, but that was one of just two field goals New Mexico State put in through the final 10 minutes of the half.
• New Mexico State converted just two of their six shots through that span and committed four of its 11 turnovers in the frame through that span. Washington State, however, did not suffer from the same offensive outage.
• The Cougars turned a 14-11 deficit into a 27-16 lead by taking off on a 16-3 run which featured three-pointers by CJ Elleby, Tony Miller and Marvin Cannon. Cannon’s long ball with 2:26 to go in the half hiked the Cougars’ lead to 27-16.
• Bobbitt trimmed the Cougars’ lead to single-digits by sinking a layup with 47 seconds left. That left the Aggies at a 30-21 disadvantage at the break.
• Saddled with a pair of quick fouls in the first half, Ivan Aurrecoechea was a non-factor for the opening 20 minutes of action. Once the second half started, however, the senior went right to work to help his team get back in the game.
• The senior shined down in the post, scoring eight of the Aggies’ first 10 points of the frame. Forced to cut away at a deficit that stood at 14 points, Aurrecoechea made it a single-digit game with 13:57 to go when his put-back layup cut the Cougars’ lead to 39-31.
• That put-back score was part of an 11-0 run by the Aggies who pulled within three when Trevelin Queen splashed a fast-break three-pointer from the far wing with 13:01 left.
• Crashing the offensive glass again paid dividends for the Aggies when Shawn Williams yanked down an offensive board and fed Jabari Rice who connected on a mid-range jumper near the Aggies’ bench. Out of a media timeout, Rice completed his three-point play with a make at the foul line that cut the Cougars’ lead to 41-39.
• After that free throw make, however, the Aggies ceded a 6-0 run to Washington State. The Cougars got a bucket and four free throw makes to hike their lead to 47-39 at the midway point of the half.
• Washington State completed its 12-2 run with a Tony Miller layup that put the Aggies at a 53-41 disadvantage with 5:57 left. New Mexico State had one more run left in the tank, though.
• Queen helmed an 8-0 spurt by the Aggies by sinking a wide-open triple on the wing and scoring on a put-back layup. Rice split a pair at the foul line to make matters 53-49 with 3:19 remaining but Washington State scored the next four to move back ahead by eight with 1:41 left.
• Williams connected on a downtown shot from the corner that pulled the Aggies within five, 57-52, with 1:18 left, but the Cougars went 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the last 1:06 to secure the win.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• It was a difficult shooting night for the Aggies, who put up a shooting split of .354/.179/.500 for the game. Though the Cougars didn’t fare much better (.354/.381/.808), they took advantage of their opportunities at the foul line.
• Washington State went 21-of-26 from the stripe while the Aggies converted just seven of their 14 tries from that distance.
• Queen and Rice each put in 14 points while the latter finished one rebound shy of a double-double after snaring a team-high nine of them.
• For the Cougars, Elleby put in a game-high 20 points on 4-of-8 shooting. The sophomore also went 10-of-13 at the foul line. Jeff Pollard added nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds in Washington State’s second-straight victory.
• Washington State netted 17 points off of 17 New Mexico State turnovers and put in 18 of its 21 tries from the foul line in the second half to pull away.
• The Aggies fell to 2-1 all-time against Washington State with the setback.
• New Mexico State is 0-5 all-time in games played in the city of Spokane, Wash.
COMING UP NEXT
• With their time in Spokane winding down, the Aggies turn their attention to the WAC/Summit League Challenge. Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., New Mexico State will head inside Magness Arena in Denver, Colo., for a showdown with Denver.