Idaho Ends Season With 73-53 Loss To NMSU

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Justin Hawkins had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Fred Peete added 12 points on four three-pointers, leading New Mexico State to a 73-53 win over Idaho in Thursday night’s WAC quarterfinals.

Jonathan Gibson also scored 12 points and Jahmar Young had 11 as the Aggies (20-13) won for the ninth time in 10 games, delighting a raucous crowd at the Pan American Center. They’ll meet Nevada in the semifinals.

It was a big fiesta as New Mexico State connected on 10-of-17 from three-point range (58 percent), with Gibson hitting 4-5. The Aggies gave first-year coach Marvin Menzies a 20-win season.

The Vandals (8-21) trailed by double digits most of the night but trimmed the margin to 47-36 on Darin Nagle’s basket with 14 minutes remaining. But NMSU went on an 18-8 tear, capped by Young’s fastbreak dunk with 7:46 to play.

Nagle led Idaho with 12 points. Jordan Brooks, the team’s leading scorer with a 12.8 average, scored two on 1-8 shooting.

The third-seeded Aggies won 78-68 at Moscow in January and handled the Vandals 88-49 in Las Cruces on Feb. 6 to ignite a run where they beat five visitors by an average margin of 29.6 points per game.

They kept things going, steamrolling Idaho with a 13-2 opening blitz that set the tone for the night. Hawkins scored eight during that run, and he had 22 by halftime as the Aggies cut Idaho to bits.

The only thing missing was a chainsaw.

New Mexico State put up wave after wave of jumpers, hitting 6-of-10 from 3-point range in building a 36-25 halftime lead. Meanwhile, the home team’s defense was a flurry of swarming arms and mayhem.

Next up is Nevada, which reached Friday’s semifinal by beating Fresno State. The Wolf Pack is arguably the best-suited team to step into New Mexico State’s homecourt cyclone, having won in Las Cruces on Feb. 28.