Behind a second half effort by Daniel Mullings, the Aggies were able to overtake a stubborn Cal State Bakersfield team Friday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV with a 69-63 WAC tournament win. The win propels the Aggies to a 25-9 season record and will now play Idaho in the championship game of the 2014 WAC mens basketball tournament with an NCAA bid on the line.
Aggie sophomore guard Daniel Mullings came alive in the second half scoring 17 of his 21 points. His play was a definiate momentum changer.
In the closing minutes of the game, Mullings was invovled in a loose ball play and was hit with a flagrant 2 foul (ejection) for striking a CSUB player while trying to punch the ball away from the grip of the Runners grasp.
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The WAC office was going to review the play to determine if Mullings will have to sit out the WAC tournament championship game, but early news indicates he will most likely be eligible to play. We're still awaiting official word from the WAC office as of this writing.
"They said it was a dead ball and there was a little scuffle," Menzies said in his post game press conference. "They are going to review it. At some point, Daniel made contact with him. I think if it would have been live, it would have been a Flagrant 1. But because the ball was dead, it had to be called a Flagrant 2. That's the letter of the law explanation I got."
The Aggies are becoming a staple in the WAC championship game. In fact, this will be NMSU's third consecutive appearance in this game and the possiblity of winning three straight titles. Overall, the Aggies are 4-1 in WAC championship games. Their only loss was to Boise State in triple overtime.
Not to be outdone by Mullings second half performance, Aggie DK Eldridge Eldridge finished with 17 points, many of his points coming in clutch situations.
Eldridge has been credited with his offensive contributions, but he's also made an impact on defense. Coach Menzies has elected to match Eldridge up with some of the WAC top offensive guards. Against Seattle, Eldridge had the honor of guarding Isiah Umipig. Against CSUB, he matched up against Issiah Grayson. Both opponents had outstanding offensive performances against Eldridge.
On to the Aggies next opponent, the Idaho Vandals. The Vandals defeated Kansas City (73-70) and Utah Valley (74-69) to reach the WAC tournament championship game.
The Vandals are led by Stephan Madison with a 20.2ppg average, the WAC leader. His supporting cast includes Connor Hill with a 14.5ppg average. The Vandals are a very good three point shooting team averaging 36 percent.
The No. 2 seeded New Mexico State men's basketball team takes on No. 5 seed Idaho, Saturday, March 15 in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference Tournament Championship at 8 p.m. (MT) in the Orleans Arena. The game will be on ESPNU.