Homestand critical for first-place Ags
A winning streak may have been snapped, but the end-game goal is still very much within reach.
The New Mexico State University men’s basketball team fell 71-41 in a nonconference game at Wichita State in the team’s worst loss of the season.
“I’m obviously disappointed that we couldn’t play a little better, but I thought we ran into a buzz saw,” said NM State head coach Marvin Menzies. “I thought those guys took out their anger over their last couple of losses on us. It was evident that Wichita State had an extra focus going on.”
The loss ended NMSU’s nine-game winning streak. But it didn’t hurt the Aggies (18-9 overall, 9-1 WAC) in their search for a fifth-straight Western Athletic Conference title. NMSU came out of the contest with it’s onegame lead over Grand Canyon and CSU-Bakersfield in the WAC standings intact.
Despite the loss, Menzies feels that it was good to face a NCAA Tournament caliber team in Wichita State (19-7) this late in the season.
“We don’t get this experience this late in the season,” Menzies said. “This gives us a barometer of how we need to play against this type of environment and this type of physicality. Of course it would have been better if we’d have played better, but we’ve got to continue to grow.”
NM State shot just 38.5 percent from the floor (15of-39) and 52.9 percent from the foul line (9-of-17). Couple that with turning the ball over 20 times and it spelled disaster for the Aggies.
“A lot of that was due to bad decision making and the turnovers,” Menzies said. “We threw balls that hit our guys in two hands and we fumbled the ball. That’s environment, nerves, that’s the Shocker faithful. And credit WSU, they did a good job defensively and did a great job of taking care of the ball. So we couldn’t get anything going on them.”
NM State got a game- high 17 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore Pascal Siakam who posted his NCAA leading 22nd double-double. Siakam also blocked three shots in the game while hitting 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. He was the only Aggie scoring in double figures.
The Aggies return to the Pan American Center for their final regular season homestand. NMSU takes on Seattle University at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20.