Game #9-082: Northern New Mexico at New Mexico State AggiesNovember 21, 2012 9:00 pm
Pan American Center
Thanksgiving eve brought the second-ever matchup between the Northern New Mexico Eagles and the New Mexico State Aggies. Northern New Mexico College took the "Junior" out of its name only seven years ago. This is the fourth year of their men's basketball program, and the second year that the Eagles have competed as an NAIA Division 2 independent. There was great excitement in Espańola to play for the first time against one of the state's D-I programs last season, a loss to NMSU in February
completing a thirty loss season (with no wins). This year's Eagles have already won three games, losing seven.
For New Mexico State, this game wraps up the four-game 2K Sports Classic, benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project. Disappointingly to their fans, the Aggies lost on the road at both Oregon State and Niagara, a neutral site loss to Bucknell at Niagara sandwiched between; the NMSU home opener against Southeastern Louisiana
was not part of the Classic.
Although the box score lists attendance of 4616, it looked to me like there were about 1200 there for the tip, not unexpected since there was no school during the Thanksgiving week and the students were long gone by Wednesday night.
The taller Aggies jumped out to a 9-2 lead that was never relinquished, although the Eagles closed it to 9-7. Two quick #superhoops
by junior wing Kevin Aronis opened the lead again; between those three-pointers, an impressive blocked shot off the backboard by sophomore guard Daniel Mullings with his head at rim level showed his athleticism (the boy has hops!). Aggie coach Marvin Menzies substituted freely through the remainder of the half, and though the Aggies looked sloppy at times, the lead continued to build to 34-13 at the half. Senior wing Bandja Sy continued to show improvement in his play around the basket, at one point turning a steal into a spectacular #omgdunx. The crowd responded to the Aronis superhoops, the Sy dunk, and the announcement of the WAC volleyball tournament championship won earlier in the day by the young New Mexico State squad.
Throughout the game, both teams took the opportunity to work on team chemistry as fourteen Eagles and twelve Aggies got playing time. Aggie sophomore Terrel deRouen did not play as he continued to nurse an ankle injury; freshman center Sim Bhullar did not play in the first half and only played seven minutes. The Eagles missed no free throws, making all eight attempts, while the Aggies again demonstrated their need for work at the line, missing six of fourteen tries. Probably the most fun of the second half was the "kiss cam" during the under-eight-minutes media timeout. A friend's spouse was talking animatedly to others around them as he continually tapped on her shoulder to point out that they were on camera and he urgently needed to kiss her; it took him most of the timeout to get her attention. The final score was New Mexico State 67, Northern New Mexico 37.
The Eagles were led by Espańola native sophomore guard Rodney Coles's eight points and six from Matthew Brito from tiny Dixon, NM. Aggie junior wing Renaldo Dixon had twelve points off the bench to lead NMSU. Sy added ten and six other Aggies scored at least six points.
The Eagles, now 3-8, have already played more than half of their home schedule with only six home games remaining; they will play only one more NCAA D-I opponent to end the season, at Utah Valley on February 11. The Aggies begin the final stretch of the non-conference season hosting Louisiana-Lafayette in two nights. The remaining games before WAC play begins December 29 include four red line upset opportunities and two other contests: the first of two games against UTEP in El Paso (the second will be in February); a visit from Southern Mississippi, completing the series begun last year; a trip to Mobile to begin a home-and-home series with former Sunbelt rival South Alabama; the annual two-game series with New Mexico, starting in Albuquerque's Pit and returning to the Pan American Center four days later; then hosting Missouri State of the Missouri Valley Conference. at NEW MEXICO STATE 67, NORTHERN NEW MEXICO 37
NEW MEXICO STATE 2-3 (0-0) -- K. Ross-Miller 3-5 0-0 6; B. Sy 5-12 0-0 10; D. Mullings 3-5 0-0 6; E. Weary 1-6 0-0 2; R. Barry 2-4 2-2 7; T. Watson 2-2 3-4 7; T. Nephawe 2-4 1-3 5; R. Dixon 6-7 0-0 12; K. Aronis 2-6 0-1 6; B. West 1-5 2-2 4; E. Coleman 0-1 0-0 0; S. Bhullar 1-4 0-2 2. Totals 28-61 8-14 67.
Three-point goals: - , NMSU 3-17 (B. Sy 0-4; K. Ross-Miller 0-1; R. Barry 1-3; D. Mullings 0-1; E. Weary 0-3; K. Aronis 2-5); Rebounds: , NMSU 51 (T. Nephawe 7); Assists: , NMSU 13 (D. Mullings 7); Total Fouls -- , NMSU 11; Fouled Out: -; NMSU-None.