With just under 16 minutes to play in Thursday’s WAC men’s basketball showdown at the UCCU Center in Orem between UVU and New Mexico State, the Wolverines trailed the talented Aggies by just two points and had the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Instead of getting a shot, however, NMSU senior guard Trevelin Queen poked the ball away at the top of the key and raced the other way for a breakaway dunk.
It was a bad sign for the home team, which had played well up until that point.
Over the next six minutes of action, the Aggies put together a 21-5 run to seize control. UVU couldn’t find an answer as New Mexico State secured the 70-56 victory.
“I thought we came out with really strong energy in the first half,” Wolverine head coach Mark Madsen said. “We were in the game. We were making the defensive rotations that we had to make. In the second half I thought there was a 10-minute stretch where it got away from us. The energy was great but we have to be able to find the shooters.”
A big key for the visitors was their outside shooting as NMSU shot 11-of-29 from beyond the arc (37.9%) compared to just 5-of-19 for the Wolverines (26.3%).
“They are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the conference,” Madsen said. “We knew they could shoot the 3, so all of our schemes had to do with contesting the 3. We just didn’t execute well enough.”
UVU also had some costly turnovers that turned into easy baskets for the Aggies, allowing them to maintain the momentum.
“I think live-ball turnovers and turnovers in general are something we have been working on all season,” Madsen said. “We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball in the second half and that resulted in them extending out the lead.”
The Wolverines weren’t perfect in the opening 20 minutes of the game but every time New Mexico State began to pull away, UVU would rally back to narrow the gap.
“When we rebound, when we go body to body on rebounds and we take good care of the ball, we are able to push out and make something happen the other direction,” Madsen said. “I felt that we in the first half we did a good job of executing the game plan and finding their shooters.”
The Wolverines were led by 16 points and 11 rebounds from junior forward Isaiah White while junior Casdon Jardine returned from injury to chip in 10 points for UVU.
New Mexico State got 17 points apiece from Queen and senior guard Terrell Brown.
The Wolverines dropped their third straight game but hope to bounce back as they get another opportunity at home against Rio Grande Valley on Saturday.
“We’re going to have to execute better,” Madsen said. “We’re going to have to get in the gym and get up extra shots. Ultimately when it comes down to it we’re going to have to make some plays. A couple of times tonight we had our shooters open and we didn’t make the extra pass. If we find the shooters, that will help us in the next game.”
He added that at this point in the season he doesn’t think his team is playing well enough.
“We can play much better,” Madsen said. “I need to do a better job of getting our guys to make that extra pass.”
UVU will welcome the Vaqueros to the UCCU Center in Orem on Saturday afternoon with tipoff scheduled at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on the WAC Digital Network and UVUtv.