Aggies Lose First Leg in Battle of I-10

A predominantly defensive battle on both sides of the court saw the New Mexico State Aggies fall to the UTEP Miners 64-55 in the Battle of I-10, Wednesday night in the Pan American Center. The Aggies fall to 1-3 on the year while the Miners improve to 3-1 with the win

In a rugged and often times sloppy defensive struggle, it was the 30-hard fought minutes of Aggie forward David Fisher that kept New Mexico State in Wednesday's rivalry showdown with UTEP, despite what ended as a 9-point Miner win.

Fisher, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound junior college transfer, scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the Aggies on 4-of-7 shooting. Maybe more impressive was his 8-of-11 shooting from the free throw line in a night when the Aggies as a team shot only 59 percent from the charity stripe.

"David Fisher came in and gave us what I thought he would, and that was energy," NMSU head coach Reggie Theus said.

After trailing by two (23-21) at halftime, the Miners came out of the intermission hitting their shots and threatened to pull away from the Aggies early in the second half.

But a pair of Fisher free throws at the 15:24 mark of the half were the first two of 10 straight Aggie points over a five-minute span. Before his free throws, UTEP was on a 6-0 run and threatening to pull away. When Fisher finished his 10-point streak -- capped off appropriately enough by a made free throw -- the Aggies were down one, 36-35, with a little more than 10 minutes left in the game.

"You couldn't guard him," UTEP head coach Doc Sadler said of Fisher's key minutes in the second half. "If you noticed, when we couldn't guard him, we had to put (Miner defensive stopper) Jason Williams on him... David Fisher is a hell of a player. Sixteen points, 10 rebounds speaks for itself."

Fisher said he knew he was in a situation where he could carry the Aggies for the second-half stretch.

"I had a mismatch," Fisher said of the second-half scoring stretch. "He (UTEP forward John Tofi) couldn't guard me. He was too slow."

Even more than a speed mismatch, Fisher's determination and energy on the defensive glass and his ability to get to the free throw line during the stretch proved to be the force that kept NMSU in the game.

Theus expects much of the same from Fisher on Saturday night when the Aggies get their second straight rival, this time when they play host to the New Mexico Lobos at 8 p.m. in the Pan Am Center.

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