The Aggies played the contest without head coach Marvin Menzies, who fell ill early Thursday and remained at the team hotel. He is expected to be with the team for the rest of the trip and be on the bench at Grand Canyon on Saturday.
“We knew this would be a grind out game,” said NM State associate head coach Paul Weir. “Offensively we just had to grind it out and that we did. Defensively we needed to get stops and we did that as well.”
Redshirt freshman Pascal Siakam led the Aggies with his fifth double-double of the season, collecting 14 points with 10 rebounds. Senior Daniel Mullings scored 11 points, while senior Remi Barry added eight points with a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Pascal and Daniel provided a spark for us tonight offensively,” said Weir. “We needed to get it going they helped the whole team get involved.”
The Aggies shutdown Utah Valley from the floor, holding the Wolverines to just 29 percent from the floor.
“We did a great job on defense,” Weir – who handles the defense for the Aggies – beamed. “We followed the game plan and reaped the reward.”
Siakam also recorded two blocked shots in the game to tally his 47th of the season to tie Charles Goza (1998-99) and James Moore (2002-03) for ninth in single season blocks.
UVU got just 19 points in each half, led by Zach Nelson who was the only player in double-digits for the Wolverines with 12 points. UVU leading scorer Mitch Bruneel, who entered averaging 12.8 points per game, scored only four points, but grabbed 10 rebounds.
NM State started the game slowly, watching Utah Valley build a 17-12 lead with 5:23 to play on a pair of free throws by Boston Gubler.
Then the Aggies went to work as Barry got a quick jumper, followed by a steal and a jumper by Ian Baker.
It was Mullings who gave NM State the lead for good with a pair of free throws to claim an 18-17 advantage with 3:19 to play, then got a dunk by Siakam to extend the lead.
In the second half, the Aggies pulled away with a 17-3 run and held on for the win.
NM State next travel to Phoenix for Saturday night’s game against Grand Canyon, knowing a victory clinches the WAC regular season championship. The Aggies have only one shared regular season WAC crown, won in Menzies’ first season in 2008.
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