Aggies Use Late Rally To Beat Denver, 80-77

Allen Haynes comes off the bench to spark Aggies' with 21 points.The New Mexico State Aggies recorded their fourth conference victory of the season by defeating the Denver Pioneers, 80-77, in Denver, Colo. coming back from six points down in the last 2:38 of the game. A 3-point basket with 1:17 in the game by Allen Haynes put the Aggies up for good.

The Aggies improve their record to 13-5 overall and 4-3 in conference play,pulling even with Denver in western division. Denver falls to 12-9 and 4-3 in the league. It was Denver's first home loss in conference play.

"I really thought in the second half we played about as good as we can," head coach Lou Henson said. "But Denver is such a great shooting ball club. Not many teams are going to be able to beat them here in Denver. Benzel and Pratt are tremendous players and they hurt us tonight."

Haynes led the Aggies with 21 points on 6-of-9 from the 3-point line and 3-of-4 from the line. Three other Aggies scored in double figures as Jason Fontenet added 20, James Moore score 16 on 6-of-10 from the field and Brandon Mason added 13. Chris Jackson would collect 10 boards on the night, his fifth double figure rebounding game of the season.

"Haynes did a tremendous job for us tonight and I think he was our outstanding player of the game," Henson said. "I also thought we got some great point guard play from Jason Fontenet and James Moore really did a good job inside for us."

As a team, the Aggies shot 53 percent from the field, improving their record to 6-0 when shooting over 50 percent . NMSU would also shoot 50 percent from behind the three point arc.

Denver was led by Erik Benzel with 24 points on 6-of-7 from behind the 3-point arc. B.J. Bratt added 21 for the Pioneers. Denver shot 47 percent from the field and 52 percent from the 3-point arc.

The Pioneers jumped out to an early eight-point lead 47-39 in the second half as the Aggies committed three turnovers to start the half. Then two baskets by Mason and a 3-point play by Jason Fontenet brought the Aggies to within three at 49-46.

Denver held a four-point lead with 14:38 in the game at 54-50, as the Aggies would hit their first five shots of the half. An Allen Haynes 3-pointer cut the lead to three at 56-53 but a B.J. Pratt lay-up and a Leslie Richardson jumper put Denver up by seven with 12:37 in the game.

Haynes' 3-point shooting cut an eight-point lead to one at 63-62 with 10:27 in the game as he would hit two in row. But two 3-point buckets by Benzel put the Pioneers back up by seven, 69-62 with 9:14 to go.

The Aggies fought back to within two at 69-67 before a shooting and technical foul by Chris Jackson gave the Pioneers four free throws increasing their lead to 72-67. Then a basket by Moore brought the Aggies to within three at 72-69.

The Aggies would miss three straight free throw shots during that stretch. Denver then expanded their lead to 75-69 with 5:03 in the game.

Then with 2:38 to go in the game, two baskets by Jason Fontenet pulled the Aggies to within two at 77-75.

With 1:49 to go the Aggies trailed by two until Haynes, 3-pointer gave the Aggies the lead at 78-77. Then Haynes came up with a steal with 52 second left. Jason Fontenet would then be fouled with :30 second to go. He would hit both free throws to give the Aggies a three-point lead. The Pioneers then missed a desperation 3-pointer with three seconds left to give the Aggies the win.

The Aggies will next travel to North Texas to take on the Mean Green, Saturday night in Denton Texas.

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