It has been a whirlwind few weeks for the New Mexico State Aggies men’s basketball team.
First, starting power forward Mike Peake was involved in a shooting on the campus of New Mexico. The unfortunate incident happened right before the Aggies were supposed to play rival New Mexico. And after news of the shooting came out, the game and subsequent return game in the series was cancelled.
Second, the Aggies are coming under fire for the way everything was handled. This includes any discipline that was handed out by the university. But, the university responded by suspending Mike Peake indefinitely from the basketball team on Monday. And on Wednesday as more and more information becomes available, three more Aggie players were suspended for one game. Issa Muhammad, Anthony Roy, and Chi Chi Avery all received one-game suspensions for breaking team rules.
Some speculate that they had some involvement in the Mike Peake incident. However, video released to various news outlets simply show the trio showing up in a yellow Camaro, putting Peake’s gun and tablet in the trunk.
With all that going on, with three starters out, the New Mexico State Aggies had to take the floor on Wednesday on the road against a quality West Coast Conference foe.
And the Aggies had to do that with just seven players. It was announced earlier this week that Deuce Benjamin is going to redshirt. And Arizona transfer Kim Aiken has not yet been cleared.
So, it was slim pickings for Greg Heiar and the Aggies on Wednesday night at the Leavey Center against Santa Clara.
But, those seven players matched the Broncos point for point throughout the night.
Deshawndre Washington was really good, finishing with a team-high 20 points. Washington also had eight rebounds and five assists in the game. And, what is more remarkable is the fact that Washington didn’t commit a turnover in the game. That is a big time stat considering Washington has the ball in his hands A LOT.
Xavier Pinson had a rough shooting night, going 5-17 from the field and just 2-10 from 3-point land. Quayè Gordon was just 4-15 from the field for 11 points.
But even with a rough second half shooting performance, the Aggies still had chances to tie or take the lead late in the second half.
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) December 8, 2022
With Santa Clara leading 63-61, Xavier Pinson missed a 3-pointer on the next Aggies possession. And following a defensive stop, the Aggies got two good looks to tie the game up. But Shakiru Odunewu’s layup didn’t fall and Kyle Feit couldn’t knock down a 3-pointer off a Deshawndre Washington offensive board with 36 seconds to play.
And even after a pair of Brandin Podzieski free throws made it a 3-point game, the Aggies still had one last chance with five seconds remaining.
But, the Santa Clara defender forced Deshawndre Washington to take one extra step and a game-tying basket was not to be. Washington hit a jumper but the Aggies needed a 3-pointer to tie.
Considering all the challenges the Aggies are facing right now, Wednesday night’s performance was solid.
Deshawndre Washington played 39 minutes. Xavier Pinson played 38 minutes. Quayè Gordon played 34 minutes. They had to. These three guards along with the four others who played on Wednesday night had to carry the load because of the fateful decision of one of their teammates. A teammate who has set this whole situation in motion with a choice.
Will Muhammad, Roy and Avery be suspended for more games? That remains to be seen. Can the Aggies hold up if those three are suspended for a longer period of time? That remains to be seen. But what doesn’t remain to be seen is that Deshawndre Washington, Xavier Pinson and Quayè Gordon are really, really good.
New Mexico State is 4-3 overally. The Aggies fly to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne on Saturday. And then the Aggies head back to the West Coast to take on Saint Mary’s on Dec. 14 in Moraga.