LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Despite 30 points from Jaycee Carroll, Utah State was unable to rally from a double-digit deficit for the second straight game on the road and lost at New Mexico State 76-73 at the Pan American Center Thursday night.
Utah State, who had its five-game winning streak snapped, falls to 20-8 overall and 8-5 in the Western Athletic Conference with the loss, while New Mexico State improves to 21-6 overall and 9-3 in league play with the win.
Stephen DuCharme added 18 points for Utah State, while Chaz Spicer scored 13.
Justin Hawkins led New Mexico State with 23 points, while Elijah Ingram had 15 points. Tyrone Nelson also scored in double-figures with 13 points to go along with a game-high eight rebounds.
New Mexico State scored the first three points of the second half to record its biggest lead of the game at 46-26 with 18:40 remaining before Utah State scored the next nine points to get back within 11. USU continued its charge and closed to within six points at 50-44 on a jumper by Chaz Spicer with 14:29 remaining only to see NMSU respond with an 8-0 run to increase its lead back to 14 with 12:37 to play.
Utah State then went on a 7-0 run midway through the second-half to get within four at 64-60 with 8:17 remaining. The New Mags slowly increased its lead back to nine at 74-65 before the USU scored eight straight to get within one at 74-73. USU actually had a chance to tie the game with :47 seconds remaining but DuCharme missed the second of two free throws.
New Mexico State had a chance to ice the game at the line but missed four straight free throws to keep Utah State within one. Utah State then had the ball with :23 seconds remaining with a chance to win but turned the ball over in front of the USU bench. Hawkins then made two free throws for NMSU with :05 seconds remaining to give the hosts a three-point lead. Durrall Peterson then missed a desperation shot from 30-feet at the buzzer for Utah State that would have tied the game.
Utah State scored the first four points of the game on lay-ups by Chaz Spicer and Stephen DuCharme before New Mexico State scored six straight points to take the lead. NMSU then used a 10-2 run to increase its lead to 12 and led 28-16 before Carroll scored 11 straight points followed by a pair of free throws from DuCharme to get USU within five at 29-24 with 6:42 remaining. New Mexico State then finished the half on a 14-2 run to take a 17-point lead at 43-26 into the break.
In the first-half, New Mexico State shot 66.7 percent from the field and was nine-of-16 from the free throw line (.563), while Utah State shot just 30.8 percent from the field and was seven-of-nine from the free throw line (.778). Ingram led NMSU with 11 first-half points, while Hawkins and Martin Iti each had 10. Carroll led USU with 14 first-half points.
Overall, Utah State shot 46.4 percent from the field as compared to 56.3 percent shooting for New Mexico State. USU did make seven-of-16 three-pointers (.438) and was 14-of-17 from the free throw line (.824), while NMSU was just two-of-nine from behind the arc (.222) and 20-of-33 from the charity stripe (.606). New Mexico State also out-rebounded USU 36-25.
Utah State will play its final road game of the regular season on Sat., Feb. 24 at Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. (MT).