The result was the biggest collapse I can remember since a 75-72 loss at home against North Texas in Marvin Menzies' first year. I could be wrong. NMSU led that game by 18 at halftime and by 21 with 14 minutes left.
Here is the box score from Sunday and following is the game recap.
New Mexico State led Niagara by as many as 22 and by 16 at halftime but the Aggies lost 86-83 on Sunday in Niagara Falls, N.Y.
The Aggies led by as many as 22 points in the first half, by 16 at halftime and by 11 with 8:31 to play. But a missed Bandja Sy 3-pointer as time expired couldn’t stop a second-half collapse that dropped the Aggies to 1-3 on the season.
Turnovers plagued the Aggies, who finished with 24 turnovers on Sunday.
“We had 15 turnovers in the first half but it didn’t hurt us because they had 15 in the first half,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “They didn’t have any in the second half and we had nine. That’s composure. Our goal is for 12 or fewer in a game and we had enough for two games.”
Niagara outscored NMSU 54-35 in the second half. NU outscored the Aggies 22-10 in the last eight minutes.
Trailing 84-78, NMSU senior Tyrone Watson hit a 3-pointer to close to within three with 2:05 left. Watson fed Tshilidzi Nephawe the next time down to make it 84-83 and then blocked a shot on Niagara’s next possession to give the Aggies the ball with 28 seconds left to play.
Menzies took two timeouts, and the Aggies got a good look, with sophomore guard Daniel Mullings missing at the rim.
“We had a guy in the corner if (Mullings) felt congested,” Menzies said. “He got right to the rim. He makes those 80 percent of the time. He’s really hurting right now but he will bounce back.”
After a pair of free throws from Niagara’s Antoine Mason with nine seconds left, the Aggies pushed the ball and got Sy an open look that didn’t drop.
“It hurts to lose but I was happy with the way we bounced back after a poor shooting performance (in Saturday’s loss to Bucknell),” Menzies said. “I was looking to see if we would bounce back. We just didn’t defend the 3 and the ball screen and that was our demise.”
NMSU shot 53 percent from the field for the game and 6-for-15 (40 percent) from 3-point range and 21-for-27 (78 percent) from the foul line. NMSU was 9-for-23 (39 percent) in the second half while Niagara went 18-for-32 (56 percent) in the second half to finish the game at 50 percent.
Nine turnovers in the second half and Niagara’s ease at getting quality shots got NU back into the game while NMSU’s offense went stagnant.
“We tried to get the ball inside but their bigs did a great job and they played tough,” Menzies said. “They bothered our big guys. We had eight turnovers just from our center spot.”
NMSU outscored Niagara 40-34 in the paint and NU scored 28 points off NMSU turnovers. NU made just four 3s in the second half.
“We knew they could shoot the 3, and we knew that was the only way they could get back into it,” Menzies said. “But it was more their pick and roll. We didn’t defend it well.”
The Aggies took a 48-32 lead into halftime on a 40-foot Mullings 3-pointer at the horn. Mullings finished with 26 points, going 9-for-14 from the field, 2-for-3 from 3-point range and 6-for-6 at the foul line. Nephawe had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Sy had 10 points.
The Aggies shot 63 percent in the first half while holding Niagara to 3-of-11 3-point shooting in the first half and outrebounding NU 18-11.
The Aggies took control of the game with a 16-4 run sparked by Terrel de Rouen 3-pointer. In his first appearance since the Aggies’ opener at Oregon State, de Rouen scored five of his nine points in the first half as he played 22 minutes before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
“He played really well and we were able to get him back on the floor tonight and we rode him really,” Menzies said. “Maybe too long because he had a couple turnovers but so did KC (Ross-Miller). We couldn’t get those guys in sync.”