Aggies Win Overtime Thriller at Pacific, 79-69
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  02/18/2006
Junior Shaun Davis and the Aggies face San Jose State Monday night at...
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STOCKTON, Calif. Red shirt junior Elijah Ingram scored his first two points of the game with 38 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws to put the Aggies ahead one and the New Mexico men’s basketball team outscored the University of Pacific, 12-2 in overtime to earn a 79-69 win over the Tigers at the Alex G. Spanos Center Saturday night in non-conference men’s basketball action.

After senior Christian Maraker put the Tigers up one at 64-63 with a dunk at the 1:05 mark of the second half, Ingram (East Orange, N.J.) was fouled going to the basket and put the Aggies back up 65-64 with his two makes from the charity stripe.  Up 65-64 with under 20 seconds to go, junior David Fisher (Dallas, Texas) stole the ball under the basket and Ingram hit two more free throws to make the score 67-64 with 18 seconds on the clock.


After an Aggie turnover with less than three seconds to go, forward Anthony Esparza found senior guard Johnny Gray off an in-bounds pass at half court and Gray nailed 40-footer as the clock expired to tie the game and send it into overtime.


“The kid made a great shot,” head coach Reggie Theus said.  “But you have to move on and that is what I told our guys.  What you saw done the stretch and in overtime was a great example of a very athletic team that played with a lot of smarts.”


The Tigers jumped out to a 69-67 lead on the first possession of overtime as guard Mike Webb hit a jumper 11 seconds into the extra session, but that is all that Pacific would get as the Aggies made eight consecutive stops on defense and scored the final 12 points to improve to 12-12 overall this season.  It is the first time this season that NMSU has won three straight games.


Pacific, which had won seven in a row and 11 of its last 13 coming into Saturday night’s game, fell to 18-7 overall with the loss.  It was the Tigers’ fourth straight defeat at the hands of the Aggies and first since the 1999-00 season.


The Aggies, who outscored the Tigers 38-20 in the paint, were led in the win by red shirt sophomore Tyrone Nelson (Hempstead, Texas) who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds in 40 minutes of action.  Fellow forward David Fisher (Dallas, Texas), who was also a force inside, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.  Fisher was 6-for-10 from the field and also dished out three assists.


“What I told our guys was that if we rebounded the ball and controlled the boards, we would have our chance to win,” Theus said.  “We out-rebounded them by seven (37-30) and we did a great job down the stretch of keeping their big men at bay.”


Junior Ted Knauber (Albuquerque/Sandia HS) also had a great game as the sharp shooter hit 5-of-8 shots, including four three pointers to finish with 14 points in just 24 minutes of action.  Ingram, who finished with eight points, hit all six of his free throw attempts with under 40 seconds to go in regulation and overtime.


“We had six guys really contribute to the scoring today and that was huge for us,” Theus said.  “Elijah’s performance down the stretch was great and he really showed what he is made of.  Shaun Davis came off the bench again and gave us a great boost.  Tyrone playing sick, but he also showed what he was made of tonight.”


The Aggies, who finished the game shooting 50.8 percent from the field, hit five three pointers and connected on 77.8 percent from the free-throw line to secure the win.  NMSU, which has doubled its wins from a year ago, got another great performance from the bench as the Aggie reserves outscored the Tigers’ 140-5.


The Tigers, who shot 41.9 percent from the field in the game, were led in the loss by Maraker who scored a game-high 30 to go along with eight rebounds.  Gray and Webb added 11 and 10 points respectively while Gray dished out four assists in 43 minutes of action.


Out of halftime, the Aggies erupted for seven consecutive points to take a 41-35 lead with just over 18 minutes to go in the game.  After Knauber converted on a reverse layup to open the half, Nelson took a pass in transition from Ingram and hit the layup to make the score 38-35.  After a Tiger turnover gave the ball back to the visitors, Knauber capped the run with a three from the top of the key.


Despite the quick start by the Aggies, the Tigers roared back with six straight points on threes from Gray and Webb to tie the game at 41 with 14:50 to go.  Pacific regained the lead next trip down as Maraker hit a medium-range jumper to put the home team ahead two.


The Aggies tied the game back up on a layup from freshman Kevin Ford (Portland, Ore.), but over the next few minutes, Pacific stayed just ahead of NMSU to lead 53-52 with 7:42 to go in the game.  Trailing 58-54, Nelson hit a layup and was fouled, converting on the three-point play to cut the deficit to one.


NMSU regained the lead on its next possession as Mitchell took the ball on the wing and blew by his defender for the layup to make the score 59-58 with 4:25 to go.  The Aggies pushed lead to three at 61-58 as Fisher grabbed an offensive board and put it back with just over three and a half to go.


The game was close early on in Saturday’s conference tilt as there were 10 lead changes and four ties in the opening 20 minutes.  The Aggies, who shot 56 percent from the field in the first half, were led by Nelson’s 11-point, five-rebound effort.  NMSU also out-rebounded Pacific 18-12 in the first half, but the Tigers scored 20 points off Aggie miscues to keep the game close.


The Tigers led 8-7 headed to the first media timeout with just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half.  After the Tigers grabbed the first lead of the game, Nelson hit a layup to tie the game and then converted on one of two free throws to put the Aggies up 3-2 with 18:01 to go.


Out of the media timeout and trailing by one, the Aggies retook the lead as Mitchell drilled an open three from the shoulder to make the score 10-8 with 13:40 to go in the opening half.  Pacific came right back with three straight points to lead by one with 12:27 to go, but Nelson got his defender in the air next trip down and nailed a short jumper to put the Aggies up 12-11 going into the second media timeout.


Leading 23-21 with 6:27 left in the first half, the Aggies pushed their lead to four as junior Shaun Davis (San Diego, Calif.) took the ball on the wing and drove to the bucket from a leaning runner.  On its next trip down, NMSU took a seven-point lead as Knauber nailed a three from the corner off an assist from Davis and the Aggies led 28-21 with just under six to go.


After a three cut the Pacific deficit to four at 28-24, Davis hit a pair of free throws and Nelson cashed in on a great assist from Ford under the basket to give NMSU its largest lead of the opening half at 32-24 with 3:30 to go.


Despite being controlled by the Aggies throughout much of the first half, the Tigers used an 11-2 run over the final three minutes of the half to lead by one at halftime, 35-34.  Trailing 34-26, Esparza and Gray hit back-to-back threes to make the score 34-32 with just over a minute remaining in the half.  Off an Aggie turnover, Maraker hit a runner in the lane and was fouled.  Maraker converted on the three-point play to put the Tigers up going into the intermission.


The Aggies will return home next week for a three-game conference home stand as NMSU faces San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and Idaho in a six-day span.  The Aggies kick things off Monday night as they welcome the Spartans to the Pan American Center at 7:05 p.m.  Fans can follow all the action live over the airwaves on KGRT 103.9 FM with the “Voice of the Aggies” Jack Nixon calling all the high-flying hoops action.  Monday’s contest will also feature live audio, live stats and live video via the web at www.nmstatesports.com and www.wacsports.com.





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