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New Mexico State Bounces Back Against 49ers

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After being upset in its last game, New Mexico State had a bad attitude Thursday night and took it out on Long Beach State in its 98-78 Big West Conference victory before a sellout of 4,874 at the Pyramid.

“Our ranking and lot of things were on the line for us tonight,” New Mexico State Coach Neil McCarthy said. “We played exceptionally well. Hopefully this was a wake-up call for us.”

The No. 20 Aggies (10-3, 1-1 in the Big West) bounced back after being upset by UC Santa Barbara, 75-65, Tuesday night. New Mexico State, which shot 60%, had six players in double figures, helping to offset 25 turnovers. Guard Keith Johnson paced the Aggies with 16 points.

Long Beach (4-3, 0-1) trailed by as many as 21 points twice in the second half, but made a brief rally behind junior guard Jamie Davis. Davis scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second half.

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The 49ers cut the lead to 76-68 on a tipin by Davis with 3:52 to play, but that’s as close as they would get. Long Beach shot 43.8% for the game and committed 24 turnovers.

Long Beach’s performance spoiled the return of guard James Cotton--Big West freshman of the year last season--who had been sidelined since Nov. 18 with a severe left ankle sprain. Cotton scored 14 points on three-of-10 shooting from the field.

“We knew they would come out ready after that loss,” Cotton said. “We just weren’t playing together at times.”

New Mexico State shot 55% in the first half and led, 45-36, at halftime. Long Beach also shot well, making 50%, but the 49ers committed 14 turnovers to 10 for the Aggies.

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Long Beach’s starting front line of forwards Juaquin Hawkins and Mike Atkinson and center Joe McNaull did not score. Atkinson was the only member of the group to take a shot, and he missed two field-goal attempts and two free-throw attempts.

Cotton entered the game after 3:41 had been played. He led Long Beach with nine first-half points in 13 minutes.


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