Aggies come up short in a nail-biter against Stephen F. Austin

With a share of the WAC regular season title on the line the New Mexico State men’s basketball team hosted Stephen F. Austin State University Wednesday night, where the Lumberjacks would come out on top 73-71. The loss not only ends Chris Jans’ perfect 30-0 record in the Pan Am against WAC opponents but it also gives the Aggies their first back-to-back loses of the season.  

NM State struck first as they would deliver the first five points of the game where Johnny McCants would see the first three of his career-high 20 point performance. The Lumberjacks didn’t shy away and answered with a 12-0 run to get ahead early. With title hopes in mind, the Aggies fought back to tie the ballgame at 12 before they chased the lead for the next five minutes. Down two, with four minutes left to play in the half, NMSU muscled their way to a 32-27 first half lead behind an energetic finish by McCants scoring eight of the last 10 points for the Aggies.  

Fighting to keep their eight game win streak alive, the Lumberjacks dropped a pair of threes to open the second half. The shots from behind the arc and a mid-range jumper gave Stephen F. Austin what they needed to retake the lead in the second half. After watching SFA creep back into the game, Teddy Allen conducted a personal 7-0 scoring run to light the way to the largest lead of 10 of the night.  

The game changing run for SFA started with 13 minutes left in the contest. Trailing by ten, Freshman guard Latrell Jossell scored consecutive threes to make it a closely contested game. The next several minutes would consist of SFA chipping away at the lead. However, with the help of missed free throws and a plethora of turnovers the Lumberjacks found their way back into the contest. NMSU finished the game 14-for-25 shooting from the free throw line and gave up a total of 18 turnovers.  

At the five minute mark, SFA turned the tables and took the lead with the help of a triple from senior guard David Kachelries to give the Lumberjacks a slim 60-59 lead. SFA would see the lead through the end of the game. Still the Aggies clawed their way back to a two point deficit because of some sharpshooting by Virshon Cotton who hit three shots from behind the arc in under a minute. The quick points by Cotton weren’t enough for the Aggies to retake the lead and saw the game end on a missed free throw attempt to try and get a tip in.  

“We certainly had some spurts where we played pretty well, but they had more of them. We gave up 46 points in the second half … When the game was on the line and we needed to get a  stop we couldn’t get one for a variety of reasons, pick your poison,” head coach Chris Jans said.  

The Aggies’ will host their final regular season game against Utah Valley on Saturday March. 6 at 7:00 p.m. in the Pan Am. The stage is set as NMSU will once again play for a share of the WAC regular season title while also seeking to obtain the number one seed in the 2022 WAC Tournament.  




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