March 9, 2013
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – Bandja Sy drilled a 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds left, as New Mexico State spoiled a valiant second-half comeback to beat UT Arlington 69-66 Saturday night at the Pan American Center.
The Mavericks rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to take two leads late in the second half, including a 66-64 edge on Brandon Edwards' baseline jumper with 15.1 seconds left. That set the stage for Sy's heroics from the deep wing.
"You have to give our guys credit for battling back," UT Arlington coach Scott Cross said. "The way they played, I can live with that. New Mexico State is a good basketball team."
The Mavericks are 17-12 overall and finished their lone WAC season in fourth place at 11-7. Up next for UTA is the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas. The fourth-seeded Mavericks open with No. 5 Utah State on Thursday night at 10:30 CT.
The Aggies (21-10, 14-4) enter the conference tourney as the third seed and will face Idaho on Thursday.
Kevin Butler scored 14 to lead the Mavericks before fouling out in the last minute. Karol Gruszecki added 11, including a go-head 3-pointer that gave UTA its first lead (64-63) of the game with three minutes left.
The Aggies took a 21-10 lead midway through the first half and UT Arlington struggled to cut into the deficit. The Mavericks made a push to pull within 30-23, but NMSU ended the half with an 8-0 run to go into the locker room up 38-23.
New Mexico State's K.C. Ross-Miller and Sy gave the Mavericks trouble on the perimeter, combining for 26 points in the opening half. Inside, 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar clogged up middle with 10 rebounds and two blocks.
The Mavericks opened the second half with a 10-0 run, holding NMSU scoreless for five minutes. Gruszecki scored five during the run, including a 3-pointer. Shaquille White-Miller also connected from deep and Greg Gainey scored inside.
UT Arlington was down 44-42 after a Butler steal and breakaway layup. The Aggies bounced back with a 6-0 spurt to lead by eight. The Mavericks would get that lead down to two (58-56) with less than six minutes to play on Gruszecki's 3-pointer.
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