FRESNO, Calif. (March 3)-In the regular season finale, the New Mexico State men's basketball team overcame a 19-point second half deficit to defeat Fresno State, 83-78, in overtime.
The Aggies (23-9, 10-4) secured the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament and meets Fresno State again, Thursday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m. in Las Vegas.
In the first overtime game of the year, junior forward Bandja Sy scored a career-high 22 points, all in the second half, to spark the Crimson and White comeback.
Redshirt senior forward Wendell McKines had 20 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season and 45th of his career. Junior forward Tyrone Watson added 11 points including a vital layup at the end of regulation.
With 16:27 to play in the second half, the Aggies trailed Fresno State, 46-27. At the 11:50 mark, McKines started an 18-4 rally with a 3-pointer. In the run, Sy had 13 points including a three-point play and a four-point play that cut Fresno State's lead to four, 58-54, with 7:59 remaining.
The Aggies kept chipping away at the Bulldogs, and with nine straight points, NM State reclaimed the lead, 65-64, with 1:59 left in regulation on a jumper from Sy. It was the Aggies' first lead since the 15:30 mark of the first half.
NM State extended the advantage to three points, 67-64, with a Watson layup with 23 seconds to go. Fresno State tied the game at 67-67 with a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.
In overtime, the Bulldogs struck first but with two 3-pointers from McKines the Aggies had a 73-72 lead at 2:14 they wouldn't relinquish. McKines hit three shots from beyond the arc in the extra period. At the free-throw line in overtime, McKines was 2-of-2 and senior guard Hernst Laroche was 3-of-4.
At halftime, the Aggies trailed Fresno State, 41-25. McKines led the Aggies with six points and 10 rebounds, and freshman guard Daniel Mullings added five points.
The Aggie offense struggled from the field in the first half and shot 30.8 percent from the field (8-of-26), while Fresno State was 53.6 percent (15-of-28).