New Mexico State basketball drops their final conference game in GCU arena

The red-hot New Mexico State Aggies (9-15, 2-10 WAC) got their first taste of a rivalry environment on Wednesday night when they squared off against Grand Canyon University (16-8, 7-4 WAC). Despite an impressive run in the second half, NM State woke up too late and dropped their 10th conference game in a 67-78 loss to the Antelopes. 

Winners of their last two, the Aggies have turned a page and look like a completely different basketball team. But, tonight they didn’t start the game with their newfound intensity from games prior.  

Slow starts have been a theme for NMSU this season, and that theme would continue as the Aggies allowed their conference foes to jump to an 11-4 start five minutes into the game. Xavier Pinson continues to come off the bench for NM State; He has been able to control the game in his first minutes off the bench. Pinson’s first minutes would prove to be valuable in cutting the lead to three at one point, but the Aggies would go on a treacherous stretch where they wouldn’t make a field goal for well over five minutes. This stretch was eerily reminiscent of stretches New Mexico State had seen during their 0-9 conference start.  

The Aggies would go into halftime down 25-41 shooting 28% from the field and found themselves in an all too familiar situation having to fight from behind.  

Being the only player in double figures with 11 points, Pinson started the second half for the NM State in hopes that they could cut into the lead early in the half. Credit to Greg Heiar for making the change in gameplan; The Aggies came out of the locker room energized and refreshed, leaving the ‘Lopes stunned, and went on a 21-6 run to cut the GCU lead to one at 46-47. 

Despite one of the best stretches of basketball displayed by the Aggies all season, Grand Canyon returned back to form for the remainder of the half an close out he game behind some impressive shot-making and playmaking from GCU guard, Ray Harrison, who finished with 18 points and five assists on the way to the win.  

Xavier Pinson continues to dominate games off the bench. He finished with 22 points and played all but four minutes of the game which led to a tired effort from the guard late in the game.  

A bump in the road for the Aggies as they have been a great basketball team as of late but cannot seem to translate that on the road. They are face with an opportunity to redeem themselves on the road as they travel to California Baptist (13-12, 5-7 WAC) who have particularly been struggling in conference play and are losers of their last four games. The Aggies will take on the Lancers on Saturday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. mtn. 

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