The Aggies returned to court in their first appearance since Saturday’s Albuquerque shooting that hospitalized New Mexico basketball player Mike Peake and resulted in the death of a University of New Mexico student.
A game against New Mexico scheduled for Saturday afternoon was canceled after the shooting.
NM State beat San Diego 90-77 to go 2-1 in the first of two games at the Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday. The Aggies play UC Irvine at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s been some difficult times,” Aggies coach Greg Heiar said on the pre-game radio show. “It’s like a movie, but we’re getting a little bit better every day. … We are resilient and will react accordingly.”
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Heiar appeared to be playing his normal rotation, with Doctor Bradley and James Beck making their first starts of the season, while Issa Muhammad made his first off the bench in the Aggies’ first three games.
There was no media availability on Friday, so it’s unclear if a player was disciplined after NM state officials reported this week that “multiple players” missed curfew the same night Peake attended the UNM campus shooting was involved. NMSU officials have said none of the other players who missed curfew were present during the 3 a.m. shooting.
In a post-game radio interview about Friday’s game, Heiar called the team’s performance “an ultimate team effort.”
“It was really good to see how the team reacted,” he said. “We’ve had a really difficult week. I was very nervous going into that game. They all reacted. We played as a team and showed what we’re capable of.”
Xavier Pinson led the Aggies with 25 points shooting 6-of-8 from 3-point range. Pinson hit five triples in the first half to lead NM State to a 41-25 halftime lead.
The Aggies were 12 of 22 from 3-point range and shooting 55 percent from the field, with guard Dajuan Gordon hitting 4 of 8 from 3-point range and finishing with 16 points. Doctor Bradley finished the tournament with 15 points and 8 rebounds and Issa Muhammad had 14 points.
Pinson had 8 of the Aggies’ 25 assists. As a team, NM State scored 36 field goals. The Aggies had nine turnovers.
The Aggies led wire to wire and up to 20 points in the first half, but San Diego finished the foul line on 19 of 20 and closed on 7 points in the second half ahead of Deshawndre Washington (11 points, 5 rebounds). , 9 assists) hit a 3-pointer. With a 6-point lead and less than four minutes to go, Anthony Roy hit a three-pointer to keep San Diego at a distance.