The New Mexico State men’s basketball team picked up its first road win of the season, beating South Alabama 58-52 in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday.
“I feel fortunate to get out of here with a win based on our recent history to finish games,” Aggies coach Marvin Menzies said. “I knew it would be a close game. I wasn’t sure who would have the lead in the last four minutes. We got stops when we needed them.”
The Aggies led by six at halftime and held off the Jaguars to improve to 5-4 on the season. Aggies senior Bandja Sy stole an attempted backdoor pass by Jaguars guard Freddie Goldstein with 20 seconds left and the Aggies leading by three.
South Alabama entered the game shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. The Jaguars were 5-for-17 (29 percent) from long range on Tuesday and 32 percent from the floor.
“We didn’t have great offensive execution,” Menzies said. “We have to get out point guards and bigs in sync. It was a plus for us the way we defended the 3-point line, 29 percent is huge. Our defense has been carrying us.”
Leading by six at halftime, NMSU turned the ball over on seven of its first 10 possessions in the second half after committing seven turnovers in the first half. South Alabama closed to within two with 15:34 to play but the Aggies answered with a 9-2 run that pushed the lead back to nine with 11:10 to play.
Neither team was good at the foul line — NMSU was 9-for-18, but the Aggies made just enough, 6-for-10, in the last eight minutes to hold the Jaguars off. South Alabama closed to within two with two minutes to play but the Jaguars were just 9-for-17 from the line.
Sy had 11 points and 14 rebounds as the Aggies shot 48 percent from the floor. Daniel Mullings led the Aggies with 13 points and Sim Bhullar had 12 points in 16 minutes.
The Aggies led 31-25 at halftime after leading by 17 with 8:08 left in the first half. Five of NMSU’s seven first-half turnovers were in the last eight minutes as the Jaguars closed to five on an Augustine Rubit follow with three seconds left.
Rubit’s bucket was one of few easy looks for the Jaguars, who started 3-for-19 and shot 30 percent from the floor in the first half while NMSU was 52 percent. South Alabama was 1-for-7 from 3-point range in the first half.
The Aggies went up 17-4 on a Watson floater with 12:50 left in the first half to cap a 15-0 NMSU run. Terrel de Rouen drove to the basket for another lay in to put NMSU up 23-6 with 8:08 to play in the half as part of a 21-2 NMSU run.