Jan. 2, 2010
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Jonathan Gibson scored a game-high 19 points, including the final two of the game, to lead New Mexico State to a hard-fought 55-52 win against Utah State in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams here Saturday night in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
New Mexico State, who snapped a three-game losing streak to Utah State with the win, improves to 8-6 on the season, while Utah State falls to 10-5 overall with the loss.
Tai Wesley led Utah State with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Tyler Newbold had 12 points and four boards. Wendell McKines was the only other NMSU player to score in double-figures as he finished the game with 10 points and five rebounds.
Utah State trailed by 11 at 53-42 with 6:52 to play before it slowly chipped away at the deficit and got within one point at 53-52 with 47 seconds to play following a three-pointer from Pooh Williams. NMSU then scored its first points in over six minutes on a 15-foot jumper from Gibson to give the home team a three-point advantage with 17 seconds left in the game. USU's Williams then missed a contested three-pointer at the top of key with five seconds to play to end the game as neither team could secure the rebound before the final horn.
Utah State finished the game by shooting 47.9 percent from the field (23-48), but shot just 23.1 percent from three-point range (3-13) and was just 3-of-5 (.600) at the free throw line. USU also out-rebounded NMSU, 31-26, but committed 15 turnovers in the game as compared to 10 for New Mexico State.
New Mexico State shot 42.9 percent for the game (21-49), including 37.5 percent from behind the arc (6-16) and 70.0 percent at the free throw line.
Utah State scored nine straight points early on to take a quick 9-3 before New Mexico State went on 17-4 run over a 6:52 stretch to take its biggest lead of the half at 20-13 with 8:04 to play. USU then scored nine of the next 11 points to tie the score at 22-all and NMSU went into the locker room with a 27-24 advantage at the break.
Wesley had eight first-half points to lead Utah State as it shot 45.8 percent from the field (11-24), 16.7 percent from three-point range (1-6) and was just 1-of-2 at the free throw line. McKines had seven first-half points to lead New Mexico State as it shot 43.5 percent (10-23), including 3-of-7 (.429) from behind the arc and 4-of-6 (.667) at the free throw line.
Utah State will conclude its two-game WAC road trip at Louisiana Tech (13-2, 1-0) on Monday, Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. (MT).
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