New Mexico State had another career performance by sophomore Pascal Siakam, but needed overtime to overcome a strong performance by the Robert Morris Colonials 81-71 on Tuesday night at the Pan American Center.
Siakam, a 6-9 forward from Douala, Cameroon, racked up 35 points – 31 in regulation – in establishing a new career-high for the third time this season. The two-time WAC Player of the Week and Preseason WAC Player of the Year also grabbed 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season in leading the Aggies (4-1).
RMU (0-5) was paced by 29 points from sophomore Elijah Minnie. The Colonials sent the game into overtime on a 3-pointer by Isaiah Still with 10 seconds left to tie the game at 67-all, then had Minnie block a foul line jumper on the Aggies’ last shot of regulation.
The Aggies owned the overtime. After Ian Baker got a jumper and a free throw, Minnie got a layup to pull RMU within one with 3:54 left.
All that did was ignite the Aggies, who ripped off an 11-0 run over the next three-and-a half minutes to put it away. The Colonials got a last second layup at games end.
“I’m happy we won the game,” said NM State head coach Marvin Menzies. “I’m not happy with all the things we did, but I was pleased that we played well in winning time in the overtime.”
The Aggies shot 50.8 percent from the floor and ruled the boards 48-to-28. But it was the Aggies 18 turnovers compared to the 10 for RMU that drew the concern from Menzies.
“We need to improve our individual skill development of passing the ball to someone that’s open,” said Menzies. “I don’t know how much RMU’s zone had to do with that. I thought they did a good job with their pressure on the top of the zone and taking away our post passing.”
Siakam shot 72 percent from the floor, hitting 13-of-18, and came up 9-of-13 from the foul line.
“He’s doing what we ask him to do,” Menzies started. “He played 10 minutes with four fouls was really the sign of maturity. He knew what we needed him on the floor for, and he did a good job of staying in the game.”
Braxton Huggins got a career-high 15 points for the Aggies, while Baker added 10 with seven rebounds and five assists.
The Aggies close their five-game homestand with the win and will hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday when they face the Falcons of the United States Air Force Academy. The game tips at noon at Clune Arena.