Pacific Men's Basketball - New Mexico State 69, Pacific 64
The Tiger men's basketball team dropped a 69-64 decision at New Mexico State on Saturday, Dec. 18. Pacific is now 6-5 on the season, while New Mexico State moved to 5-7 on the year.
The Aggies hit their first three shots from the field, on the way to an early 7-4 lead. A three-pointer from junior Jose Rivera (Brentwood, Calif.) capped an 8-0 Tiger run as the Tigers rebounded to take a 12-7 lead. Pacific hit five treys in the first half, from four different players. New Mexico State cut it back to 15-12, but the Tigers surged ahead again, using an 8-4 spurt to to a 23-16 lead with 8:35 to play in the half. Neither team scored for the next four minutes, then Christian Kabongo scored four in a row for the Aggies to make it 23-18. Pacific pushed the lead up to a game-high eight points (31-23) after a three-pointer by sophomore Allen Huddleston (Merced, Calif.) and three free throw makes from freshman Khalil Kelley (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). NMSU's Gordo Castillo hit free throws at the end of the first half to make it a 31-25 Pacific lead at the break.
Continuing momentum from the end of the first half, New Mexico State scored five straight to even the game at 31-31 just two minutes into the second half. Senior Pat Eveland (San Diego, Calif.) gave the Tigers a 34-31 lead with a trey, but the Aggies surged ahead with a 13-5 run to take a 44-36 lead with 13:13 to play in the game. NMSU extended the lead to nine (52-43) with 11:06 left, then the Tigers stepped up defensively. Pacific held the Aggies scoreless for the next five minutes, but could only cut the lead to 52-47 with 8:12 to play after a dunk from senior Sam Willard (Pierre, S.D.). With NMSU leading 60-51, Pacific scored six straight points to make it 60-57 with 3:11 to play. Castillo then hit one of his three three-pointers to take the lead back to six (63-57). The Tigers trailed 66-59 with just over a minute left when senior Demetrece Young (Oklahoma City, Okla.) hit a three-pointer. Pacific needed a stop on the next possession but allowed two offensive rebounds and Tshilidzi Nephawe hit one of two free throws to make it 67-62 with :28 seconds remaining. Trailing 67-62 with :08 to go, Huddleston stole an inbound pass and Willard scored on a layup to make it 67-64 with just :05 to play. Castillo iced the game with two free throws to give NMSU the victory.
Willard led the Tigers with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Eveland added 14 points. New Mexico State shot 53.2 percent from the field, including 61.5 percent from the field in the second half and hit four of six three-pointers in the final 20 minutes. The Tigers were outscored in the paint 26-12, but did hold a 17-11 advantage on points off of turnovers.
Pacific will next be in action at Fresno State on Tuesday, Dec. 21 at 7:00 p.m.