Aggies drop third straight, come up short in new home opener vs. CBU


NM State is in the midst of a three game losing streak for the first time since 2015.

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team suffered its third straight conference loss for the first time since the program joined the WAC in 2005 Friday night, falling 85-75 to California Baptist in the team’s “home” opener at Eastwood High School in El Paso.

The Aggies got off to blistering start, hitting back to back threes coming courtesy of Henry Clayton and Johnny McCants as part of making their first seven shots to take a 16-11 lead. Coming up right behind them, though were the Lancers, who stormed back to take a 19-18 lead, keeping things within a possession for the rest of the first half.

The Lancers carried a three-point lead into the half despite NM State making seven three pointers and shooting 48.4% from the field. Neither team struggled getting shots in the opening period, but CBU managed to outbound the Aggies on the offensive glass — a stark contrast from the story of the GCU games — amassing several second chance buckets that proved to be the lone difference early.

Both teams started the second half right where they left off, coming out hot and scoring right away. CBU came out with back to back buckets extending the lead 48-43, as they made 7-of-10 on their first shots. 

The Lancers continued to grow their lead, going up double-digits at 58-48. The three-point well for the Aggies had gone dry, with the Aggies hitting just one of their first five attempts.

NM State went on an 8-0 run as they brought themselves back into the game only looking at a four-point deficit in the with under eight minutes to play. Seven of those eight points came from Jabari Rice, who went down with an ankle injury right after bringing the Aggies back before re-entering the game minutes later after a review from the medical staff. Even with a strong resurgent effort down the stretch against a hot Lancers team, the Aggies could never quite close the gap. 

The offense of the Lancers could just not be stopped as they shot 8-19 42.1% from three and 52.4% from the field. Reed Nottage led all scorers with 19 points, going 5-6 from three and Jabari Rice led NMSU with 17 points. 

The string of misfortune is unfamiliar territory for head coach Chris Jans and his squad, who had never lost three straight in the three-time WAC Coach of the Year’s tenure in Las Cruces, but if there’s one thing this last year has taught us, it’s to expect the unexpected in the post-COVID sports landscape, and few teams have been as affected by the virus, and its consequential restrictions, as the Aggies.

NM State will have a chance to turn things around immediately, taking on the Lancers in game two of the weekend series in El Paso tomorrow night, where the Aggies will look to pick up their first conference win of the year.

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