|Vandals fall in quarterfinal|
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - New Mexico State shot 60.0 percent from the field and the Idaho men's basketball team couldn't keep up as the Aggies beat the Vandals 65-49 in the Western Athletic Conference quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
The Vandals trailed by 12, 42-30, five minutes into the second half when they began to make a push. A 7-0 Idaho run cut NMSU's lead to just five points at 42-37, but the Aggies responded with an 11-4 run of their own to build the lead back to double-digits with less than eight minutes to play. The Vandals pulled within eight at 57-49 with four minutes to play, but never got closer.
Idaho senior Kyle Barone went 8-for-10 from the field and finished with 19 points while sophomore Connor Hill added 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting.
"It's tough when it ends, no question about it, especially when you've coached a guy like the one to my right," Idaho coach Don Verlin said, referring to Barone. "It is always hard for the seniors because we've had four seniors who've really given a lot to this program."
Daniel Mullings led the Aggies with 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He added three rebounds, three steals and an assist in the game. Bandja Sy added 14 points and seven rebounds for NMSU.
"New Mexico State wore us down with their pressure and athleticism during the second half," Verlin said. "When they needed to make the plays at the end of the shot clock they did. Too many turnovers and too many easy baskets led to us getting beat tonight."
Idaho connected on 40.0 percent of its shots in the game, but just 3-of-19 3-pointers (15.8 percent). Each team had 26 rebounds and Idaho had nine of those on the offensive glass, leading to a 14-5 advantage in second-chance points. The Vandals committed 16 turnovers in the game and the Aggies took advantage to score 25 points off turnovers.
Idaho finishes its season with a 12-18 record while the Aggies advance to the WAC semifinals with a 22-10 mark.
"It hurts right now knowing that I'm not going to be able to play another game," Barone said after the loss. "I thought this year we were ha a good enough team to make a run at this tournament. They wore us out during the second half, and when you're not scoring or stopping them you can't win."