Deshawndre Washington and New Mexico State couldn't overcome the hot shooting by Saint Mary's on Wednesday night in Moraga. Courtesy NMSU Athletics.

WAC Wednesday Thoughts: Cardiac Jacks, Bearkats Roll, Aggie Nation Emotions

The emotions that come from watching your favorite sports team win or lose a ball game is fascinating. As a Chicago Cubs fans, I know that emotional roller coaster all too well. And on WAC Wednesday, three fan bases went through a roller coaster of emotions. All in their very own unique ways.

Those emotions came because of a wild finish in Ruston, Louisiana. Other emotions came as one fan base watched its team get a blowout win. And the third set of emotions came during a game against one of the best mid-major teams in the country.

It was all kind of wild to watch unfold.

AJ ‘Buckets’ Leads Cardiac Jacks to Win

His Twitter handle is @aj_buckets. SFA fans know him as AJ Cajuste. Louisiana Tech fans now know him as the player that broke their hearts.

Cajuste hit a driving layup with .9 seconds left in overtime to give SFA an 80-79 win over Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night in Ruston.

Oh, the emotions of a ball game.

Cajuste hit a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in regulation to give SFA a 68-66 lead. And after a steal by Nana Antwi-Boasiako, it looked like the Cardiac Jacks would get the win in regulation. But, Antwi-Boasiako missed the front end of the 1-and-1 situation. And Kenny Hunter sent the game to overtime with a layup.

The emotions got even stronger in overtime.

Kyle Hayman gave SFA a 78-76 lead with 16 seconds left. But, La Tech responded as Cobe Williams completed the and-1 opportunity with four seconds remaining to put the Bulldogs ahead by one.

Enter AJ ‘Buckets’!

Cajuste went the length of the floor and, thru two defenders, hit the game-winner with .9 seconds remaining.

Cajuste had 16 points in the win. Hayman finished with a team-high 18 points. Both players came off the bench in a 7-man rotation for the depleted Jacks. Day Day Hall had 16 points and eight rebounds. LaTrell Jossell finished with 15 points and Nigel Hawkins had 13 points. And the Jacks knocked down 14 3-pointers in the win. In fact, SFA had to knock down that many 3-pointers to even be in the game. That is because the Jacks turned the ball over 28 times in the win.

Next up is a trip to Furman on Saturday.

Bearkats Roll Behind Offensive Explosion

When Sam Houston hits shots, it is dangerous. That is because the Bearkats can defend. In road losses at Nevada and Oklahoma State, the Bearkats weren’t able to knock down shots. And in an ugly first half at Louisiana Monroe on Wednesday night, it was a similar story. The Bearkats shot 43 percent from the field but were just 4-11 from distance in the first half.

However, the second half was a whole different story.

The Bearkats shot 56.3 percent from the field and knocked down eight 3-pointers to turn a 5-point halftime lead into a 26-point win.

Cam Huefner had 18 points in his first start of the season. Donte Powers finished with 12 points. And Lamar Wilkerson and Jaden Ray both had 11 points off the bench for the Bearkats.

Sam Houston improves to 8-2 overall and hosts Arlington Baptist on Tuesday before finishing the non-conference slate at Missouri State on Dec. 22.

Emotions High in Aggies Loss at Saint Mary’s

There is an expectation at New Mexico State that the men’s basketball team is going to win every game. What Chris Jans did in his time in Las Cruces over the past five seasons simply reinforced that notion.

And despite a new head coach and entirely new roster of players, that notion and expectation does not dissipate. Especially when the Aggies are facing one of the best mid-major opponents in the country.

Perhaps it was even more so on Wednesday night knowing that the rival New Mexico Lobos won in the same place a week ago.

Whatever it was, there were a lot of emotions from Aggie nation at play on Wednesday night.

And for good reason. New Mexico State struggled to defend the 3-point line and the Gaels took advantage en route to an 81-68 win at the University Credit Union Pavilion.

Saint Mary’s hit 13 3-pointers in the win. And a lot of those were wide-open looks as Aggie defenders sank too far into the paint area. The Gaels also dominated the boards, 43-25, and had 15 second-chance points in the contest.

New Mexico State never fully went away. Deshawndre Washington, Xavier Pinson and Quayè Gordon did all they could to keep the Aggies in the ball game. But, one assist on 21 made baskets won’t help.

The Aggies drop to 5-4 overall and finish a wild week-long road trip 1-2. New Mexico State is back at the Pan Am Center on Sunday to host Northern New Mexico. And then the Aggies head down I-10 to play Kent State on Wednesday in the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

Just a quick note about the Aggies. As much as people hate change, this is a different style of basketball for a different style of team in 2022-23. The Aggies aren’t built to grind out wins. They are built to get up and down the floor, play with pace and simply outscore opponents. That will take some getting used to and it will play with emotions. But, be patient. There are growing pains. But, it’s not the end of the world. There will be a tomorrow.

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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