Cal State Bakersfield faded down the stretch on Saturday in Los Cruces and suffered its first Western Athletic Conference loss of the season to New Mexico State.
The Aggies outscored CSUB 18-8 in the final 5 minutes and 15 seconds to hand the Roadrunners (11-6, 3-1 WAC) a 73-62 loss.
Jarkel Joiner put Cal State up by nine, 36-27 with 17:38 left half but New Mexico State went on an 11-2 run — two 3-pointers by Shunn Buchanan and five free throws and a layup by Terrell Brown — for its first lead of the game at 38-36 with 14:56 left.
NMS (13-4, 2-1) opened up a five-point lead with 9:34 left but the Runners came back to take a 54-52 lead with 6:43 left on a Joiner jumper and free throw.
Keyon Jones hit a three-pointer with 6:15 left to put NMS up by one and CSUB never led again.
“They have a good team,” CSUB coach Rod Barnes said of the defending WAC champion Aggies. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors, but we put ourselves in position to get a win. Give New Mexico State credit. They have won a lot of games and they have won a lot of games here. When you go on the road, teams are going to make a run and they made a run today.”
Ricky Holden led the Runners with 19 points and Joiner added 18. Damiyne Durham struggled from the field, going 3-13, and finished with eight points.
The difference in the game came at the foul line. CSUB was 9-for 11 (81.8 percent), but New Mexico State went to the line nearly three times more often. The Aggies were 23-of-31 from the line and a stout 17-of-20 in the second half.
CSUB opened the game with a three-pointer and led 20-9 and 24-12 before heading to the break up 29-22.