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EL Paso, TX — Junior guard Daniel Mullings became the 32nd Aggie in program history to score 1,000 points in a career leading the New Mexico State men’s basketball team with 17 points on the night as the Aggies fell 80-68 to No. 19 Gonzaga in McCarthey Athletic Center, Saturday, Dec. 7. NM State is now 7-4 on the season.
Mullings’ 1,000-career point came at the 17:32 mark in the second half when he made two free throws. He finished the evening going 5-of-14 from the field while also making 6-of-9 free throws. He now has 1,011 points during his time in the Crimson & White and surpassed former Aggie guard Billy Keys on the all-time scoring list. Mullings also tallied a team-high five assists.
Junior center Tshilidzi Nephawe added 13 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, although the Aggies were out-rebounded 45-30 with the Bulldogs scoring 22 second chance points.
“With our game plan we thought we might get out-rebounded,” said head coach Marvin Menzies. “We designed to take away the 3-ball and we didn’t anticipate for their rebounding to be that efficient. When you have a deep and balanced team, which they do, they were able to overcome our game plan.”
The Aggies were 43 percent from the field and Gonzaga was 48 percent from the field with junior guard KC Ross-Miller going 4-of-9 on the night while making 2-of-3 shots from behind the 3-point arc. Senior Kevin Aronis also made two-3-pointers and finished the night with 10 points.
“I am proud of the way our guys played and proud of the way they competed,” Menzies said. “We seemed to be a little more patient on offense but it’s tough when they shoot 48 percent from the field.”
The Aggies started the game on a 10-4 scoring run and after a Nephawe dunk led the game 12-8 with 13:18 left in the first half. NM State held its four-point lead when Kevin Aronis pulled off a nice reverse lay-up at the 12:07 mark. A Ross-Miller three pointer with 8:31 left in the half gave the Aggies a 24-19 lead but Gonzaga took its second lead at 29-28 with 3:11 on the clock. NM State battled the Bulldogs through the very last second as Daniel Mullings made a lay-up with one second left, as Gonzaga led 31-30 at the half.
The Aggies shot the ball fairly well making 43 percent of their shots but struggled on the boards pulling down only 17 rebounds, compared to Gonzaga grabbing 26. NM State was 33 percent from 3-point range making 3-of-9 while the Bulldogs were 0-of-5. It was an intense and physical first half with the Aggies keeping up with the nationally ranked Bulldogs in front of a vocal crowd.
Gonzaga scored the first seven points of the second half and used another 8-2 run to take a 49-39 lead with 11:35 left in the game. NM State was shooting just 20 percent from the field during this time.
The Bulldogs used the momentum to take a 56-43 lead but Aronis hit a three with 9:30 on the clock to keep his team within 10. NM State continued to trail by 10 after Mullings hit a layup with 5:45 on the clock. The Bulldogs took their largest lead of 15 when they made a lay-up with just over three minutes to play in the game. Ross-Miller hit his second 3-pointer of the game with 1:18 on the clock to pull the Aggies back to within 10, but it wasn’t enough, as Gonzaga took the win 80-68.
The Aggies continue their road swing as they head to Tucson, Ariz. to take on the Arizona Wildcats, who could be No. 1 nationally when the new polls come out on Monday afternoon. The game against U of A is Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. (MT) is will be televised on the PAC-12 Network, while it can also be heard on the radio with ‘Voice of the Aggies’ Jack Nixon on KGRT 103.9 FM.
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