Warrior rally falls short against New Mexico State
LAS VEGAS – New Mexico State jumped out to a 22-2 lead in the first six minutes and then held off Hawai’i, 92-81, in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals tonight at The Orleans Arena.
The Warriors end their season at 16-16, with a bid to the College Invitational Tournament not expected. The Aggies improved to 25-9 and advance to tomorrow’s championship game against the winner of Nevada and Louisiana Tech.
Freshman guard Shaquille Stokes scored a game-high 21 points and junior center Vander Joaquim added 17 points to lead UH.
New Mexico State sprinted to a stunning 17-0 lead in the first 4:40, mostly on surprisingly easy fast-break layups or wide-open 3-point shots. Hawai’i, which committed only seven turnovers in Wednesday’s 72-70 upset of Idaho, lost the ball six times in the first seven
minutes as the Aggies took a 22-2 lead on Tshilidzi Nephawe’s three-point play with 13:58 remaining.
The lead was 38-20 after Wendell McKines’ 3-point basket with 5:44 left, but Joaquim answered with a layup 13 seconds later to start the Warriors on a 12-0 run that closed the gap to 38-32 after Stokes’ second straight 3-pointer with 3:20 remaining.
It was 44-38 with under a minute left before Hernst Laroche’s 3-pointer with 43 seconds remaining put New Mexico State ahead, 47-38, at the break.
UH closed it to 61-60 on Hauns Brereton’s baseline jumper with 10:36 left in the game, and drew it to 76-73 on Trevor Wiseman’s putback with 4:44 remaining, but the Aggies effectively sealed the victory with a 9-2 run capped by Hernst Laroche’s free throws that made it 85-75 at the 1:36 mark.
More details, including video highlights and interviews, will be posted later.
(WarriorInsider.com photos by Brandon Flores)