Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.
EL PASO, TX - In the second game of the Sonic Battle of 1-10, the New Mexico State men's basketball team fell at UTEP, 73-69.
Senior guard Hernst Laroche (5-4) led the Aggies with a season-high 16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the 3-point line. As a team, NM State hit a season-high 10 3-pointers. Junior forward Tyrone Watson was also in double figures with a season-high 11 points.
The Aggies fell behind early with three turnovers in the first four minutes of action. At 13:09, the Miners built an 18-point lead, 24-6, thanks to a box and one defense, which focused on redshirt senior forward Wendell McKines. He finished with 11 rebounds and four points.
NM State increased the defensive pressure, and it spurred an 8-0 run. The Aggies extended the rally to 16-3 and cut the deficit to five, 27-22, on a jumper from Watson at 9:40.
The Aggies trailed UTEP, 45-38, at halftime. Laroche and Watson each scored nine points in the first half. Laroche was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line. The NM State bench was productive with a pair of 3-pointers from freshman guard Daniel Mullings and five points from junior forward Bandja Sy. The duo finished with eight points each.
In the second half, two quick 3-pointers helped the Aggies to pull within four, 48-44 at 17:33. The Crimson and White kept battling and had its first lead of the game at 10:01 after Mullings sank two free throws, 60-59.
The Aggies extended the lead to five points, 65-60, on a McKines dunk at 7:02, and the defense held UTEP without a field goal for nearly eight minutes.
At 3:37, NM State had a four-point lead, 67-63, following a lay-in from sophomore center Tshilidzi Nephawe. The Aggies couldn't hold off the Miners, who had a 10-2 run to end the game.
After opening the season with seven of their first nine games on the road, the Aggies begin a five-game home stand against Western New Mexico, Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. inside the Pan American Center.