The New Mexico State Aggies looked like themselves again Saturday night, bouncing back from a 10-point loss to California Baptist on Friday night with a 27-point romp of their own on Saturday.
Both games were played at Eastwood high school in nearby El Paso, TX. And both programs were looking to bounce back in the win column. As expected, the series was split with a 85-75 win for the Lancers on Friday and a 97-70 win for the Aggies on Saturday.
This had the potential to be an entertaining WAC series and both squads didn’t disappoint.
GAME ONE – CBU Takes Advantage of Defensive Struggles
California Baptist confirmed my prediction of a series split right off the bat. The Lancers shot 53 percent 10-point win on Friday night and put New Mexico State fans in a foul mood.
CBU was efficient even with Lancers’ leading scorer Ty Rowell having an off night (8 points, 2-12 FG and 0 made threes). His squad managed to pick up the slack just fine. Fellow sharpshooter Reed Nottage led all scorers with 19 points going 5-6 from deep. Also chipping in with 18 points apiece was big man Gorjok Gak and guard Tre Armstrong.
Call of the Game: Nothing like a pair of daggers to close out a win away from home. 😤
The sophomore snipers closed it out last night, now the Lancers will be looking for a sweep over NMSU tonight. ⚔️🧹 pic.twitter.com/guqts5jSrb
— Braiden Bell (@braidenbellpxp) February 6, 2021
The Aggies certainly had opportunities to win their first WAC game. But lack of stops contributed to a loss to a more composed Rick Croy squad on Friday night.
GAME TWO – New Mexico State Puts on Fireworks Show on the Offensive End
With plenty on the line, Chris Jans and his squad went to the hotel, regrouped and came back swinging the following night.
The Aggies had five players reach double-figures in this one with leading scorer Jabari Rice leading the way with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Also helping out was Donnie Tillman (19 points), Evan Gilyard II (13 points), William McNair (12 points) and C.J. Roberts (11 points).
CBU’s leading scorer Ty Rowell was back to himself logging 22 points to lead all scorers. However, sophomore guards Reed Nottage and Tre Armstrong had just 5 points combined after combining for 37 points in CBU’s win on Friday.
New Mexico State also took care of the ball very well with 14 assists to just 8 turnovers compared to California Baptist’s 7 assists to 18 turnovers.
If one highlight had to be taken away from the Aggies performance, it was the showtime windmill dunk by freshman guard Marcus Watson in the second-half. The 6-6, 215-pound redshirt-freshman made his Aggie debut last night and finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds and one flush.
Each side took home a win and New Mexico State really needed one and got one in style. This is hopefully the win necessary to turn their season around. Remember after the Aggies lost to the Lancers back in early 2019. After that loss, they went on a 31-game conference winning streak.
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) February 7, 2021
After the series the Lancers move to 9-6 (4-4 in the WAC), which is good enough for fourth in the conference. New Mexico State walked away with their first conference win of the season moving to 4-4 (1-3 in the WAC) and now in 7th place.
Both squads gear up for their next Friday/Saturday conference series after securing a win each in El Paso, TX.
For the Lancers, they head back to Riverside host currently undefeated UTRGV starting on Friday. The Vaqueros missed a clash of the WAC’s undefeated last weekend at home. The GCU series was cancelled due to positive cases within the Antelopes program.
The Aggies head on the road to the Pacific Northwest. Seattle is coming off of a series split with Dixie State this weekend. The Redhawks were on nearly a three-week pause due to COVID-19 complications within the program. But even given the long pause, they didn’t skip a beat with their 21-point win on Saturday night.