The New Mexico State men’s basketball team was able to pull within 55-48 of Saint Mary’s with 7:17 remaining, but ultimately fell to mid-major power Saint Mary’s 73-58 at home Wednesday night in the Pan American Center.
“I loved how we started the game,” NM State head basketball coach Chris Jans said. “I thought the game went exactly the way we wanted it until about ten, nine minutes left in the game and then in went South. AJ [Harris] got two fouls and we couldn’t afford that and obviously we didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first half.”
The Aggies kept pace with the Gaels early on in the first half, leading 15-12 at the second media break (11:17). However, it was all Saint Mary’s the rest of the half. Behind Jordan Ford’s game-high 28 points, the Gaels went on a 20-8 run to close the first half and put the Aggies behind 32-23.
The Gaels didn’t miss a beat coming out of the break and went on a 9-2 run, forcing a timeout by NM State at the 18:09 mark down 41-24.
A 15-7 run ensued for NM State after that timeout by Coach Jans and brought the Aggies within 50-40 before Eli Chuha knocked a pair of shots at the charity stripe to make it 50-42 with 10:25 remaining.
But, the veteran team from Saint Mary’s weathered that storm and another run by New Mexico State that brought the Aggies within 55-48 with 7:17 left to go. A huge layup by Harris made it 61-51 in favor of the bad guys was answered with corner three and was followed by 3-pointer from Harris back on the other end.
However, it proved to be not enough as the Gaels extended its lead near the end and handed the Aggies the 73-58 loss.
“In the second half, the crowd tried to get us back in the game and we couldn’t quite get it to where we were close enough to potentially make them nervous and they did what championship teams do and they closed us out,” Jans said.
New Mexico State was led by Harris, who had 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting while Aurrecoechea chipped in with 12 points and six boards off the bench. Chuha also added seven points and six rebounds for NM State while Brown finished with seven points and four boards himself.
Another rivalry game is on the horizon for New Mexico State as it heads north to #Aggiequerque to take on Battle of I-25 rival New Mexico Saturday, Nov. 17, at 4 p.m. (MT). Saturday’s rivalry game will be broadcast on AT&T Sports Network.