Aggies Stumble Against Ragin' Cajuns

The New Mexico State men's basketball fell to the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns 67-53, Thursday night in the Cajun Dome. The Aggies were haunted by turnovers and have now dropped four of their last five games and five straight to the Ragin' Cajuns.

The Aggies are now 7-8 overall this season and 1-3 in the Sun Belt Conference. UL-Lafayette goes to 8-5 on the year and 3-1 in conference play.

NMSU was led by Duane John with 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting from the floor. Kelsey Crooks added nine points, as James Felder had eight. As a team, the Aggies shot 38 percent from the floor and only 2-of-17 from the 3-point arc.

Brain Hamilton led the Cajuns with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. As a team, the Cajuns hit 39 percent of their shots, while making 8-of-11 free throw attempts.

The Aggies got on the board first in the second half, as Moore hit a jumper in the lane but the Cajuns came right back keeping their lead at 31-24 with 18:11 to go in the game. Moore then picked up his third fouls of the game with 16:42 to go, as UL-Lafayette grabbed a 10 point lead at 34-24. Moore then picked up his fourth foul and had to sit with 16:12 to go in the game.

The Cajuns started the half on a 12-4 run as the Aggies fell behind 40-26 with 13:36 to go in the game. NMSU would make only two of their first 11 shots in the second half. The Aggies continued to battle and pulled to within 13 points at 43-30 with 11:57 remaining. The Cajuns then jumped out to a 50-31 lead with 10:00 left in the game.

The Aggies rallied back with a 6-0 run to get within 13 points at 50-37 with 9:23 to go. But the Cajuns proved to be too much for the Aggies as UL-Lafayette seemed to have an answer for every NMSU basket. With 6:29 remaining in the game the Cajuns held a 56-39 advantage. UL-Lafayette continued to pour it on the Aggies as they maintained a 15 point lead at 61-46 with 3:31 to go in the game.

The Aggies continued to fight over the last three minutes of the game but UL-Lafayette proved to be just too much for NMSU, as the game ended at 67-53.

NMSU started the game taking a quick 8-4 lead with 16:11 remaining in the first half. Four points by John and Moore led the way for the Aggies. Neither team could find a rhythm over the next two minutes but the Aggies still held a four point lead at 10-6 with 14:33 to go in the half.

The Ragin' Cajuns pulled to within one at 12-11 with 12:06 to go, after two turnovers by the Aggies. Still both teams were having a hard time getting their shots to fall. NMSU would miss their first four 3-point attempts to start the game.

The Aggies' seventh turnover of the half allowed UL-Lafayette to grab their first lead of the game at 15-14 with 9:12 left in the half. But Crooks answered with a turn around jumper in the lane giving NMSU the lead back at 16-15 with 8:42 to go in the half. The Cajuns then put together a 9-0 run to take an eight point lead at 24-16 with 6:51 left in the half.

Felder then broke the Cajun run with jumper in the lane, scoring the Aggies first field goal in two minutes, bringing the score to 24-18 with 4:43 to go in the first half. But turnovers were the story as the Aggies fell behind by 10 points at 28-18, with 3:11 left, after committing their 13th turnover of the half.

NMSU then pulled within seven at 28-21 with 1:55 remaining after a Jackson lay-up and free throw. Crooks then added a free throw to bring the score to 28-22, Cajuns with 55 seconds to go. Brian Hamilton added a free throw with less then a second in the half to give the Ragin' Cajuns a seven point lead at 29-22 going into the locker room.

John and Felder led the Aggies with six points each, as Moore sat the last eight minutes of the first half, after picking up this second foul. Crooks added five points for NMSU. As a team, the Aggies shot 40 percent from the field and out rebounded the Cajuns 19-to18. But NMSU would commit 14 turnovers and went 0-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc in the first half.

The Ragin' Cajuns shot just 37 percent from the floor as a team. Brian Hamilton led the way for UL-Lafayette with seven points and nine rebounds.

The Aggies will be back in action this coming Saturday, January 24, on ESPN2 against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Tip-off is set for 2:05 p.m. (MT)

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