Aggies finish WAC play perfect 16-0 with senior night blowout over CBU

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Cassidy Kuester

New Mexico State sealed an undefeated WAC season for the third time in conference history in tonight’s 83-50 win over Cal Baptist.

Perfect isn’t a word often used in sports, but the New Mexico State basketball team managed to earn it in their 83-50 win over Cal Baptist, sending the senior class out on a historic note and finishing the regular season at 25-6, with a perfect 16-0 WAC record a week out from the start of WAC Vegas.

The Aggies were about as perfect as a team could hope to be entering postseason play Thursday night, getting off to a 23-3 lead after 10 minutes while holding Cal Baptist to an outrageously inefficient 1-for-12 — that’s eight percent — start to the game.

NM State was hot on the other end to boot, with nine of their first 13 field goals coming from beyond the arc and the team as a whole shooting a blistering 56% from three-point range on 16 first half attempts.

With the game effectively sealed by the halftime break, the Aggies finished out the game in cruise control, never allowing the Lancers a sniff at life and holding them off with authority en route to the 33-point shellacking in the final box score.

“Tonight I was curious, anxious to see if they could keep it going. You know, the emotions of senior night affect people in different ways, but they were great. They were locked in,” Jans said of his team peaking at the right time. “We’re playing well right now. I think [this] will give them confidence to continue to do the things we’re doing in practice to try to get ready to go over to Vegas next week.”

Trevelin Queen looked ready for tournament time, returning to his x-factor form that saw him claim the WAC Tournament MVP last season tonight with highlight after highlight — including an off-the-backboard alley-oop to himself — on his way to a game-high 19 points. Four other Aggies (Ivan Aurrecoechea Terrell Brown, C.J. Bobbitt and Johnny McCants) finished in double-digit scoring and the Aggies finished the game above 50% shooting while turning the ball over just seven times.

The win marked the second first time NM State has finished the regular season with a perfect conference record since the program was part of the Border Conference in the 1937-38 season, cementing this season’s team as one of the program’s best.

“The players started talking about it after the Bakersfield win… once they start chanting about it, talking about it — when it’s on the table, our coaches start talking about it to them. It was our way of trying to make them feel as if they had to win the game,” Jans said of the securing the perfect conference record. “This was our chance to leave our footprint in the history of the program, certainly in the league. You want them to feel pressure because of what’s about to happen in Vegas. The more times we can put them in that positions, we’re going to try to do so and obviously they handled it great.”

NM State honored seniors Brown, Queen, Bobbitt, Aurrecoechea, Shunn Buchanan and AJ Harris after the game in what will go down as one of the most dominant final outings on Lou Henson Court as there’s been in some time for a more than deserving senior class.

This group will go down as one of the most successful ever at NM State and has played a huge role in the program’s success over the last couple of seasons. While the sendoff is emotional, judging from tonight’s performance, this group’s work is far from being done.

“It’s hard to think about this being the last game here… I think it was especially emotional because of that,” Aurrecoechea said. “Everybody was talking about how we’re not playing at our best level [earlier in the season], but you saw today that it doesn’t matter how long it takes us, we always get back to the Aggie way. We’re ready for the WAC Tournament and March Madness.”

The top-seeded Aggies will have a week before they take the floor again at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas for the start of the WAC Tournament, where NM State will look to win a third-consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.

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