RUSTON, La. (Dec. 31)-The New Mexico State men's basketball team concluded its WAC opening road trip with a 81-72 loss at Louisiana Tech on New Year's Eve. The Aggies (6-8, 0-2) had won the last seven games in the series over the Bulldogs (11-3, 2-0).
Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings tallied a game-high 21 points for the second straight game. He was 8-of-16 from the field. Senior forward Tyrone Watson contributed 14 points, and he was 10-for-14 from the free-throw line, hitting 10 in a row. The Aggies shot a season-high 37 free throws.
The Aggies started the second half strong and hit their first five of six shots. NM State used a 12-3 to trim LA Tech's lead to three, 57-54, at 16:40. The rally included a back-to-back three-point plays from Watson and junior forward Renaldo Dixon.
With 13:49 remaining, Mullings knocked down a 3-pointer to bring the Aggies within two, 63-61. The Bulldogs hit the next two shots, and the Aggies pulled back within three, 68-65, after a Mullings put back at 9:22 but couldn't get any closer.
At halftime, the Aggies had a 10-point deficit, 49-39, behind a career-high 10 points from sophomore guard Terrel de Rouen on a 3-of-3 performance from the field. Mullings added eight points, while Watson had seven, which were all scored at the free-throw line.
In the first half, the Aggies shot 48 percent from the (12-of-25) and 68.2 percent from the free-throw line (15-of-22). Uncharacteristically, the Aggies gave up 7 3-point field goals, and the Bulldogs were 7-of-13 from beyond the arc (53.8 percent). NM State came into the game only allowing 4.8 3-pointers per game and 28.8 percent, which ranked No. 38 in the NCAA.
The Aggies return home to host a pair of conference games against UTSA, Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. and Texas State, Saturday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m.