A heavy underdog, Chicago State (8-9, 3-0 WAC) upset conference favorite New Mexico State (14-6, 3-1) on Thursday night with a balanced effort, 86-81.
New Mexico State entered the contest in first place in the WAC and had won all three games by an average of 18.3 points. The Aggies had not lost since Dec. 11.
But Thursday, they were without 7’5″ sophomore center Sim Bhullar. Bhullar averages 9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks.
The Aggies jumped out to a 17-9 lead early in the first half, but the Cougars clawed back to take a 40-39 lead on sophomore Clarke Rosenberg‘s free throws with 1:27 remaining.
New Mexico State tied the score at 40 going into halftime.
Chicago State served the first punch in the second half, taking a 53-45 advantage.
The Aggies had a response, though, using a 10-0 to retake the lead at 58-55. They remained on top in the final two minutes, 72-71, after a pair of free throws by junior K.C. Ross-Miller.
Senior Nate Duhon made his own pair at the charity stripe to put Chicago State ahead, and he fed senior Quinton Pippen for a dagger three-pointer the next possession.
New Mexico State got within one point on junior Daniel Mullings‘ three-point play.
Chicago State made all eight of its free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.
Rosenberg led the Cougars with 20 points and four steals, but head coach Tracy Dildy received production from many places.
Pippen recorded 19 points and eight rebounds while senior forward Matt Ross registered 17 points and seven boards.
Duhon had 12 points and four assists off the bench, and senior guard Corey Gray notched 10 points.
Mullings led New Mexico State with 26 points and five steals while senior guard Kevin Aronis added 15 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting as a reserve.
The Cougars now sit in first place in the WAC at 3-0, already with a pair of road wins. They continue their home stand against Texas-Pan American (5-14, 1-3) on Saturday afternoon. The Broncs ended a 10-game losing streak Thursday night at UMKC.