With less than 30 seconds left in the game, Mason (Chicago, Ill., Morgan Park HS) recorded his first steal of the night, taking the ball from UNM's Ruben Douglas, setting up the fast break for Fontenet (Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary's HS), who scored the game-winning lay-up, giving the Aggies a 59-58 lead with just 16.7 seconds left on the clock and UNM with the ball.
Following timeouts by both teams with 16.7 seconds left on the clock. The Aggie defense kept the ball out of the hands of UNM's leading scorer, Douglas, forcing another Lobo player to attempt the winning shot. The Aggies forced Lobo guard Mark Walters to shoot a crowed jumpshot that barely hit the rim and Will Morris (Pomona, Calif., Riverside JC) fell on the lose ball to seal the victory.
The Aggies, who had not led the game since holding a 19-18 advantage with 8:26 left in the first half, would only need the one lead the rest of the game to earn the victory in front of 9,419 screaming fans, who were standing for much of the last five minutes.
The Aggie defense held the Lobos to just two-for-six from the field and four-for-seven from the line in the last five minutes of the game. The Lobos also committed two turnovers and grabbed only one offensive rebound in that time.
Mason, who had just five points in the first half, stepped up on both ends of the court, scoring 15 points in the second half, including shooting 3-for-4 from behind the arc and grabbing three rebounds. Mason, who guarded Douglas for most of the night, held him to just nine points, and 2-for-5 shooting from the field, while forcing three turnovers in the second half.
Mason led the Aggies with 20 points, five boards and one steal for the game. Fontenet added 14 points, four assists and four boards for the Aggies.
For the game, the Aggies shot 34 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from behind the arc and 64 percent from the free throw line. The Aggies and Lobos both grabbed 35 rebounds, with the Lobos holding a 26-22 advantage on the defensive boards, but were outscored 28-12 in the paint.
The Lobos shot 45.8 percent from the field, 25 percent from the three-point arc and 64.3 percent from the free throw line and committed six more turnovers than the Aggies. The Lobos were also out-rebounded on the offensive boards a13-9 and were outscored by the Aggies 10-4 on second-chance points.
Douglas led the Lobos, recording 20 points and nine boards on the game, but committed six turnovers. Jammall Williams added 15 points and six blocks to help the Lobo offense.
The Aggies and the Lobos traded baskets for much of the first half, with neither team building a large lead. In the first 15 minutes of the game, neither UNM or NMSU could build a lead larger than five points. The Lobos was first to break the five-point lead barrier, going up by nine with 3:59 left in the half on a three-pointer by Tindall.
UNM opened the first half scoring the first five points, but the Aggies answered and took their first lead of the half at 9-8 with 15:14 left in the half. The Aggies and Lobos would trade baskets and leads until Tindall?s three-pointer.
The Aggies ended the half, which saw four lead changes, by scoring six straight points and cutting the nine-point deficit to three at 32-29 as time expired.
The Aggies shot just 34.5 percent from the field and 36.4 from behind the arc in the first half, compared to 48 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from behind the arc by the Lobos. The Lobos outshot the Aggies from the charity stripe, shooting 80 percent, compared to 50 percent for the Aggies. The Lobos out-rebounded the Aggies 18-17, but NMSU held an 8-4 advantage on the offensive board, leading to eight second-chance points for the Aggies.
Fontenet led the Aggie offense in the first half, scoring five points, dishing out three assists and grabbing three rebounds. Crooks added five points and three rebounds for NMSU.
Douglas led the Lobo offense, scoring 11 points and grabbing two rebounds, but committed three turnovers. Tindall added eight points and one assist for UNM.
The Aggies opened the first 10 minutes of the second half by shooting a dismal 18.2 percent from the field, going 2-for-11 and 1-for-4 from three-point land. UNM stretched their lead to nine, but NMSU battled back, making a five-point swing by forcing a Lobo five-second violation and Mason draining a three-pointer, cutting the Lobo lead to 44-41.
With 1:24 left in the game, Fontenet cut the UNM lead to one, driving to the hoop and scoring on a lay-up while drawing a foul. Fontenet made the ensuing free throw, cutting the UNM lead to 56-55.
Following a free throw by UNM's Williams, NMSU missed on a lay-up and was forced to foul Douglas with 42.1 seconds left in the game. Mason was fouled after Douglas missed his second free throw, sending Mason to the line with 40.9 seconds left on the clock. Mason made both free throws and cut the Lobo lead to 58-57, setting up Fontenet's game-winning basket.
The Aggies take on Maryland-Eastern Shore Wednesday, December 3, at the Pan American Center. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m