Three Miners scored in double figures while the defense frustrated the Aggies all night forcing 20 turnovers in their 67-64 victory over their I-10 rivals.
New Mexico State led 5-4 early in the game when the Miner’s Ze’Rik Onyema would hit a jumper to take a 6-5 lead and never trailed again. Onyema had a career high 13 points and 7 rebounds in the effort. 11,315 fans packed the Don Haskins Center on the Miner home opener and were treated to balanced scoring and a hard fought defensive performance by the roster full of new Miners.
The Aggies got the score within 28-25 with 6:15 left in the half but the Miners would tighten up lead by the play of Southern Miss transfer Tae Harding who scored 14 points on 5 of 12 shooting and helped the Miners build a 37-31 lead into the intermission. The Miners opened the second half on a 8-2 run to extend their lead to 44-35 early in the 2nd half.
Coach Heir and his Aggies would continue to battle Xavier Pinson’s 20 points down to 8 points with 5:12 to play. It would be a former Aggie now dawning the orange and blue, Mario McKinney making his Miner debut versus his former team that would add 10 points to keep the Miners ahead.
The Miners led by as many as 13 and held off a comeback effort by the Aggies. The Aggies would add 2 late three pointers to cut the lead to 3 as time expired to make the Final 67-64.
This new look Miner team seems to be a complete change of pace to what Miner fans have become accustomed to. This team has played outstanding perimeter defense holding NMSU to 4 of 16 from beyond the 3 point arc (2 of those coming in the final minute) and balanced scoring with 24 points coming off the bench and 10 Miners seeing action.
Story by Chris Gomez