The Seattle University men’s basketball team fell victim to a hot-shooting night by New Mexico State, as the Aggies held off the Redhawks, 92-77, Saturday night in Western Athletic Conference action at KeyArena.
A traditional three-point play by Isiah Umipig (Federal Way, Wash.) put the Redhawks on top three minutes into the game, 8-6, but New Mexico State would go on an 11-1 run, the final six points scored by Daniel Mullings, to take the lead, 17-9. Two three-pointers by Kevin Aronis would push the Aggie lead into double digits, and a layup by DK Eldridge would give New Mexico State its biggest lead of the first half at 32-19 with 8:14 to go before halftime.
Seattle U would fight back over the next three minutes, outscoring New Mexico State 13-4, capped by a three-pointer from Clarence Trent (Tacoma, Wash.), to close the Aggie lead to four at 36-32. New Mexico State went on a 9-2 scoring run to extend its lead back to 11 before a jumper by Umipig as time ran out made the halftime score 45-36 in the Aggies’ favor.
Two free throws and a three-pointer by Umipig in the first 30 seconds of the second half pulled the Redhawks back to within four at 45-41, but New Mexico State would seemingly put the game out of reach thanks to a 14-2 scoring run over the next five minutes, led by Tshilidzi Nephawe with seven points during the run.
The Redhawks made one final push, going on a 9-1 scoring run over a three-minute span to close their deficit to nine at 74-65 with seven minutes left in regulation, but the Aggies finally closed out the contest thanks to 10 unanswered points late in the game.
”They are good, and after losing three in a row on the road, we knew they were going to come in and fight without giving up any ground,” Seattle U head coach Cameron Dollar said. “Our guys fought hard and didn’t quit, which was good to see. We have done pretty well on the road, so we will get back to work on Monday and get ready to make next week’s trip.”
Umipig shot 8-of-15 from the field, including three three-pointers, and made all five of his free throw attempts to lead Seattle U with 24 points, while D’Vonne Pickett Jr. (Seattle, Wash.) finished with 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Jack Crook (Manchester, England) contributed nine points, 10 rebounds, and two blocked shots as the Redhawks shot 43.5 percent from the field (30-of-69), including 55.2 percent in the second half (16-of-29).
New Mexico State (18-8, 7-3 WAC) saw six players reach double figures in points, led by Nephawe with 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field along with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Mullings finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals, while Eldridge scored 15 points, KC Ross-Miller contributed 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals, Renaldo Dixon earned 11 points and two blocked shots, and Aronis added 10 points off the bench.
As a team, the Aggies shot 57.6 percent from the field (34-of-59), including 5-of-7 from behind the three-point line. New Mexico State won the rebounding battle, 34-32, and blocked nine Redhawks shots, led by Sim Bhullar with four blocks to go along with three points, five rebounds, and four assists.
Seattle University (11-11, 3-6 WAC) hits the road for games at WAC leader Utah Valley Thursday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. local time (6 p.m. Pacific time) and at Bakersfield Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. Both games will be broadcast live on 770 AM KTTH The Truth with Dave Grosby and Gary Hill Jr., starting with the pregame show shortly before tipoff each night.