NMSU goes dancing, draws #3 Baylor on 'Selection Sunday'
LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CBS4) – The historic season for first-year head coach Paul Weir and the 2016-17 NM State men’s basketball team continues to rewrite history books as the second-seeded Aggies punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 70-60 victory over the top-seed CSU Bakersfield Saturday night at Orleans Arena.
NM State, No. 14, will take on Baylor, No. 3, on Friday at 10:40 a.m. in the first round of the tournament.
NM State has now captured the WAC Tournament title for the fifth time in six years with its win.
The win propels NM State to 28-5 overall on the year and became the all-time winningest team in school history. The team they passed in the record books? That’d be the 1969-70 Final Four team (27-3) led by legendary Aggie head coach Lou Henson.
In a game where tempo and possessions played key roles, the slower style of offensive of CSUB gave way to an 8-7 lead for the ‘Runners with 11:58 left to play in the first half.
The Aggies went 13:07 minutes between field goals, which allowed CSUB (22-9) to take a 26-13 lead before Johnathon Wilkins completed an and-1 opportunity with 2:29 left to play in the first frame.
NM State was able to cut the CSU Bakersfield lead to 29-20 at the half thanks to an 8-4 run in the last 3:50 minutes of play in the first half.
Down 37-26 at the first media timeout, a put-back from Eli Chuha followed by a triple from Ian Baker – his first points of the game – coupled with a CSUB turnover forced head coach Rod Barnes to call a timeout with 13:55 on the clock as NM State cut the lead to 39-31.
Jemerrio Jones brought the Aggies within 41-39 on a scoop lay-up before tying the game up with a 10-footer at the 10:41 mark.
With the shot clock winding down, a step-back corner three from Chancellor Ellis gave NM State the 44-41 lead with 9:05 left on the clock and never looked backed.
Baker was named the WAC Tournament MVP after knocking down all 15 of his points in the second-half. The Washington, D.C., native finished 5-of-8 from the floor, including three from deep, with four assists.
Joining the Aggie floor general on the all-tournament team was Braxton Huggins and Chuha. Chuha finished with his 15th double-double of the year Saturday night, scoring 15 points with 11 rebounds on 4-6 shooting on top of eight points from the foul line. Despite finishing with just eight points, all of which came from the charity stripe, Huggins made six of those in the final two minutes of action to sustain the lead for NM State.