OREM — After getting out to a seven-point halftime lead, the Utah Valley men’s basketball team failed to hold the second-half lead and fell to the New Mexico State Aggies by a final of 78-66 in front of a season-high crowd of 3,155 at the UCCU Center Thursday night.
The Wolverines jumped out to a 12-point lead to start the second half, but the lead completely dissolved at the half’s midpoint after NMSU forward Pascal Siakam knocked down a midrange jumper to give the Aggies a 53-52 lead.
UVU had three players scoring in double figures with Marcel Davis leading all scorers with 22 points. Konner Frey had 15 and Jaden Jackson followed with 14. Siakam led the NMSU charge as he picked up his 14th double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“I felt like they were beatable,” Konner Frey said. “They’re obviously a really good team, but I feel like we’ve shown, in the first half and early parts of the second half, that we were very capable of beating them, so that’s kind of a bittersweet thing. Sweet that we’re getting better, that we can compete with teams like that. Bitter, obviously, that we took the loss.”
The first half belonged to UVU, who capped the half by outscoring NMSU by seven in the final seven minutes to take a such a lead going into the half. A 4-0 run out of the break helped the Wolverines extend the lead to 12 points with 17:45, but that was as far away as they could get.
At that point, the Aggies started crashing the offensive boards and using their size advantage to earn second-chance points and cut into the Wolverine lead.
“We got hurt on the glass,” UVU head coach Mark Pope said. “That’s an issue for us. It was a huge issue in this game, we knew it was. We were up in the first half because we were up two in the rebounding column, and then in the second half they out-rebounded us by 10, and five or six of those were really, really painful offensive rebounds where we had them stuck and feeling weird… Offensive rebounds fix you when you don’t feel right and they did that.”
With 10:01 remaining, the 12-point Wolverine lead became a one-point deficit, and NMSU outscored UVU 25-12 in the closing minutes. NMSU guard Sidy Ndir sealed the deal with 1:55 to play by elevating, dunking, and drawing the foul over Andrew Bastien. The dunk took the air out of the UCCU Center and the sails of UVU for the remaining seconds of the game. The Wolverines finished the game just 0-for-5 from the field.
UVU looks to bounce back from the loss by hosting the UT-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the UCCU Center.
I’m a Pacific Northwest guy who loves his Pacific Northwest sports. An amateur movie buff who prefers the disc to digital. Chasing the sports writing dream while I geek out on Assassin’s Creed.