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New Mexico State Outlasts Seattle to Claim First in WAC Basketball Standings

Sole possession of first place was on the line in Monday night’s Western Athletic Conference showdown between the New Mexico State Aggies and Seattle Redhawks. It may still be the final week of February, but this WAC basketball matchup had every bit the feel of a high-stakes March matchup. The tiny Redhawk Center only has a capacity of 1,000, but the fans in attendance were in full-throat throughout. New Mexico State basketball and Seattle U went back and forth and both sides left it all on the floor.

The second half of the contest featured multiple momentum shifts with both teams going on scoring runs. The last of those runs belonged to New Mexico State. Ultimately, the size and strength of NMSU proved to be too much for Seattle to overcome. The Aggies fended off every counterpunch the Redhawks threw at them and now sit alone atop the WAC basketball standings after a hard-fought 66-55 victory.

Teddy Allen New Mexico State Aggies Seattle Redhawks WAC college basketball
Credit: New Mexico State University Athletics

Size, Strength Advantages Power New Mexico State Aggies to Massive Road Win

New Mexico State basketball wasted little time getting the scoring started as Teddy Allen fed Will McNair Jr. on a beautiful backdoor cut on the opening possession of the game. However, nearly three full minutes of clock elapsed before either team would score again. The first points for Seattle basketball didn’t come until the 16:07 mark when Darrion Trammell finally broke the ice with a layup. A three-pointer by Sir’Jabari Rice with a little over 14 minutes on the clock gave the Aggies a 9-4 lead. That’s when Trammell decided to take over the game.

Trammell scored 10 of the game’s next 17 points overall. A layup at the 10:37 mark gave Seattle U their first lead of the game at 16-14. Allen quickly tied it with a jumper before both teams embarked on a scoring drought of nearly three and a half minutes. Following the under-eight media timeout, it was Allen’s turn to take over.

After dishing a beautiful assist to Mario McKinney Jr. for a dunk, Allen knocked down disgusting fadeaway jumpers on back-to-back possessions. All the while, the Aggies continued to play suffocating defense. A pair of free throws by Trammell at 5:17 marked the first points for the Redhawks since taking a two-point lead. Exactly 5:20 of game clock expired in between.

The final five minutes of the half saw the Redhawks go on a 10-4 run to tie things up at 28. It came as no surprise that five of those points came courtesy of Trammell. However, Donnie Tillman responded by burying a triple to give New Mexico State basketball a 31-28 advantage at the break.

Teams Trade Momentum, Scoring Runs to Begin Second Half

The second half began with back-to-back made jumpers by none other than Teddy Allen. The frontrunner for WAC basketball player of the year stared down the Redhawks student section upon burying the second shot. A layup by Will McNair bumped NMSU’s lead to nine before Seattle finally recorded its first points of the second half. Riley Grigsby’s triple was promptly answered by one from Clayton Henry. McNair tacked on a free throw to push the Aggies’ advantage to its peak at 10 points.

After that, New Mexico State basketball took its turn having to weather a scoring drought. A pair of layups by Kobe Williamson bookended a 9-0 run for Seattle U as the Redhawks cut the lead right back down to a single point. Add in a massive block by Grigsby on a dunk attempt and the Redhawk Center came back to life in a big way. However, Sir’Jabari Rice was able to thwart the sudden rush of Seattle basketball momentum by knocking dow three-pointers on consecutive possessions for the Aggies.

Aggies Close Game on 8-0 Run as 13-Point Margin of Victory Fails to Tell the Full Story

No matter what New Mexico State basketball did, Seattle always seemed to have a counterpunch. A free throw by McNair with just over six minutes to go bumped the Aggies’ lead back up to nine. Sure enough, Seattle U answered right back with five straight points. Unfortunately, the moment tum came to a screeching halt when Cameron Tyson was assessed with a technical foul for picking up his second flop warning. Even so, NMSU only led by five at 57-52 at the final media timeout.

https://twitter.com/NMStateMBB/status/1495990141642579971?s=20&t=8EgwvD85ly0khhnDn_PxyQ

When Johnny McCants knocked down a three-pointer with just one second left on the shot clock, it certainly felt like the dagger. Darrion Trammell had other ideas as he raced down the floor and buried a three of his own to make it a 60-55 game with 2:12 remaining. That Trammell three-pointer would prove to be the Redhawks’ final points of the contest. The Aggies ended the game on an 8-0 run as Rice blew past the defense for a layup with 58 seconds left. Henry and Allen iced away the road win with free throws in the waning seconds.

Teddy Allen Bolsters Case for WAC Basketball POY in Win

When you can score 19 points in a first-place matchup all while being at far from your best, you’re a pretty darn good player. Such was exactly the case for Teddy Allen in New Mexico State’s win on Monday night. Despite shooting 0-6 from beyond the arc, Allen still led all Aggies with 19 points. He contributed in many other ways as he always does as well, finishing with five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

After Johnny McCants posted a double-double in the first meeting against Seattle basketball this season, it was Will McNair Jr.’s turn to do the same on Monday. The sophomore big man from Philadelphia piled up 14 points, 14 boards and added three blocked shots for good measure. For the second time this season, the size and length of the Aggies caused major problems for Seattle. New Mexico State outrebounded the Redhawks by a wide 50-36 margin.

Darrion Trammell Leads All Scorers with 24 for Seattle in Defeat

While Allen is likely to take home WAC basketball POY this season, Darrion Trammell certainly made a statement on Monday night. The junior college transfer led all players with 24 points, 19 of which came in the first half. If not for Trammell keeping them afloat, the Redhawks could have very easily been run out of their home gym. The sophomore guard added four steals and three assists to his overall line.

Unfortunately for the Redhawks, little else went right offensively. Seattle basketball shot just 31.3% from the field as a team compared to 41.5% for New Mexico State. The Redhawks were even worse from three-point range, shooting a collective 22.6%. Cameron Tyson came into the game as the team’s second-leading scorer behind Trammell, averaging 15.7 points per game. He came nowhere close to that figure on Monday, shooting just 1-12 from the field.

Looking Ahead

With the win, New Mexico State now has firm control of their own destiny in the WAC basketball standings. Chris Jans’ Aggies will look to move closer to a triple-bye in the conference tournament on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Chicago State.

As for Seattle, the Redhawks now find themselves in danger of losing a coveted top-two seed in the WAC tournament. A tough road game at Utah Valley looms for interim coach Chris Victor’s squad on Thursday night.

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