Saint Mary’s stifles Aggie offense as NM State falls to Gaels at home

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






After+undergoing+an+MRI+earlier+this+week%2C+junior+big+man+Ivan+Aurrecoechea+is+ruled+out+indefinitely+after+suffering+a+knee+injury+against+UTRGV.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Saint Mary’s stifles Aggie offense as NM State falls to Gaels at home

After undergoing an MRI earlier this week, junior big man Ivan Aurrecoechea is ruled out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against UTRGV.

After undergoing an MRI earlier this week, junior big man Ivan Aurrecoechea is ruled out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against UTRGV.

Cassidy Kuester

After undergoing an MRI earlier this week, junior big man Ivan Aurrecoechea is ruled out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against UTRGV.

Cassidy Kuester

Cassidy Kuester

After undergoing an MRI earlier this week, junior big man Ivan Aurrecoechea is ruled out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury against UTRGV.

After opening up the season against two rebuilding programs, the Aggies ran into a well-oiled machine that is the Saint Mary’s Gaels Wednesday night inside the Pan American Center in what was arguably the best mid-major game of the night across the country.

Despite the Gaels being nabbed for a “down year,” Saint Mary’s was able to ride the formidable 1-2 punch of Jordan Ford and Malik Fitts while leaning on a superb defensive effort in a 73-58 win over the Aggies.

Ford scored a game-high 28 points on 8-of-20 shooting and made a living at the free-throw line, knocking down all 11 attempts. Ford’s ability to create off the dribble opened the door for Fitts, enabling him to earn most of his 20 points around the rim.

“Kudos to coach (Randy) Bennett and Saint Mary’s – at least from my perspective, they showed why they are the level of championship program that they have — you cannot rattle them,” Jans said after the game. “From the top down, they are poised, they know who they are, they have their system down pat and we had to play well to beat them. Everybody knew that, we knew that, we talked about it and I love how we started the game.

“. … playing against a program at this level, eventually you’re going to have to some shots too because you can’t keep this type of team with a player like Ford down for very long.”

The Aggies found a good start to the game through the production of forward Ivan Aurrecoechea. The 6-foot-8 Spaniard’s old school back-to-the-basket offensive game gave the Gael defense fits early on. Aurrecoechea scored six straight points and it set the tone for the entire Aggie frontline, who were able to battle the bigger and longer Gaels to nearly an even total in rebounds (32-30 SMC) in points in the paint (30 apiece).

“I thought we played tough in the first half, but we started to miss shots on offense and we didn’t finish how we usually do,” Aurrecoechea said after a career-high 12 points and six rebounds on the night. “I thought that the problem was in the beginning and the finishing in the first half when we started to not finish at the basket like we usually do.”

Aside from shooting a poor 2-of-18 from 3-point territory, the Aggie guards struggled to finish near the rim. JoJo Zamora and Terrell Brown went a combined 2-of-14 from the field and Clayton Henry, who lead NM State with 14 points in their previous game, was held scoreless and only had one field goal attempt in the game.

“In the second half, the crowd tried to get us back in the game and we just could not quite get it to where we were close enough to potentially make them nervous,” Jans said. “Then they did what championship teams do – they closed us out.”

AJ Harris led the Aggies in scoring with 17 points, followed by Aurrecoechea’s 12 as NM State’s only two players in double digits.

The Aggies (2-1) will now turn their sights on in-state rival New Mexico. The 4 p.m. Saturday contest in The Pit in Albuquerque will be the first of two meetings between the two programs. The Lobos return the visit December 4 at 7 p.m.

Facebook Comments
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story