Aggies fall to Conference Leaders UL 76-58

The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns found their groove in Las Cruces as they beat the New Mexico State Aggies 76-58, Wednesday night at the Pan American Center. The Aggies have now lost six of their last seven games against the Cajuns as they fall to 11-12 on the year and 5-7 in conference play. The Cajuns bounced back from a loss to New Orleans last weekend to improve to 15-6 overall and 10-2 in conference.

Kelsey Crooks led all Aggies in scoring as he dropped in 17 points, while James Moore added 12 and Allen Haynes scored 10. As a team, the Aggies hit only 36 percent of their baskets going 21-of-58 from the floor, and only 31 percent from the 3-point arc, making only 5-of-16 attempts.

The Ragin' Cajuns were led by Chris Cameron and Orien Greene who had 17 points apiece while two other Cajuns scored in double figures. Louisiana-Lafayette shot 53 percent for the game on a 28-for-53 performance while hitting 10-of-22 attempts from behind the arc for 45 percent. The Cajun defense also forced the Aggies to turn the ball over 21 times on the night.

Laurie Bridges scored two quick points to get things going in the second half as the Cajuns extended their lead to 39-27, but Byron Davis' first points of the game at 18:40 cut the lead back down to 10. Both teams continued to trade baskets throughout the first four minutes of the second half, but the Ragin' Cajuns held a 48-35 advantage with 15:18 left in the half.

Greene's third trey of the game put the Cajuns up 51-35, but Davis answered that with a 3-pointer of his own to cut the lead down to 51-38 with 14:30 remaining. The Ragin Cajun's consistency from behind the arc continued to haunt the Aggies as they were a perfect 4-for-4 in the second half, and led 55-38 with 13:47 left to play.

UL continued to play strong defense and forced the Aggies to commit 18 turnovers to their 10 with 11:58 left in the second half. The Aggies managed to put together a small 8-2 run, but Brad Boyd was left wide open and sank his third trey with just over nine to play to give the Cajuns the 63-48 lead.

The Aggies were able to cut the lead down to as few as eight in the second half at 63-55 with 6:15 left to play, but the Cajuns' consistency from the floor and their dominance on defense allowed them to pummel the Aggies 76-58.

James Felder scored the first points of the game with a lay-up at 18:45, and NMSU took the first lead of the game at 2-0. Dwayne Mitchell then stole the ball and made a lay-up of his own to tie the game, but two quick free throws by Crooks put the Aggies back up 4-2 with 17: 50 to play in the first half.

Neither team scored for the next two minutes until Duane John sank his first basket of the game at 15:50 to put the Aggies up 6-2. With the four point lead, the Aggies had only shot nine percent from the field, hitting only 2-of-11 baskets while the Cajuns were shooting only 25 percent on a 1-for-4 performance.

While both teams continued to play sloppy throughout the first eight minutes of the game, the Aggies managed to hang on to an 8-4 lead while out rebounding the Cajuns 15-9 and committing two less turnovers. UL managed to tie the game after a free throw and 3-pointer by Boyd, and they took their first lead of the game at 10-8 on a lay-up by Cedric Williams with 10:40 left in the opening half.

With only 7:26 left in the first half, the Aggies found themselves down 17-8 after the Cajuns went on a 13-0 run and forced five turnovers. Back-to-back treys by Crooks gave the Aggies a little confidence back, but UL continued to play hard and led NMSU 27-20 with under four minutes to play.

After a 21-0 run by the Cajuns, the Aggies were down as much as 21-8, but fought hard to get back into the game and only trailed 36-27 heading into the locker room.

Leading the Aggies at the half was Crooks with 12 points, while Moore added eight of his own. As a team, the Aggies shot 28 percent from the field and 88 percent from the charity stripe while out rebounding the Cajuns 25-18.

Williams led the Cajuns into the locker room with 11 points and three rebounds as the team as a whole shot 48 percent from the field, hitting 14-of-29 attempts.

The Aggies will take the hardwood again on Saturday as they face UC-Irvine in the ESPN Bracket Buster. Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m. in the Pan American Center.

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