SPOKANE, Wash. (AP)CJ Elleby scored 20 points as Washington State hung on to beat New Mexico State 63-54 on Saturday at the Spokane Arena.
Jeff Pollard added nine points and 10 rebounds for Washington State (5-4), which was picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12 this season.
Jabari Rice and Trevelin Queen each scored 14 points for New Mexico State (5-5), which had won both previous meetings of these teams. The Aggies play in the Western Athletic Conference.
This was Washington State’s annual game in Spokane, where they have an 18-17 record.
In the first half, New Mexico State went on a 9-0 run to take an 11-8 lead.
But Washington State put together a 16-2 run of its own, capped by Marvin Cannon’s 3-pointer, to build a 27-16 lead late in the first.
Washington State led 30-21 at halftime, largely by holding the Aggies to 36% shooting while hounding them into 11 turnovers. Washington State shot just 32% in the first, but made seven 3-pointers while New Mexico State sank just two.
Elleby scored Washington State’s first nine points of the second half as the Cougars built a 39-25 lead.
Ivan Aurrechoechea had a pair of baskets as the Aggies scored 11 consecutive points to cut WSU’s lead to 39-36. The Cougars went more than four minutes without a field goal.
A pair of baskets by Pollard helped the Cougars push their lead to 53-41.
But Queen sank a 3-pointer as the Aggies cut WSU’s lead to 53-49.
But the Aggies could get no closer in the final minutes.
New Mexico State: The Aggies are now 0-5 record in their history in games played in Spokane. The losses included three NCAA Tournament games and one loss at Gonzaga.
Washington State: The Cougars are still trying to find their footing under new coach Kyle Smith. The Cougars lead the nation by averaging just nine turnovers per game, while forcing 16 turnovers per game. Elleby came in averaging 20 points per game
New Mexico State plays at Denver on Tuesday.
Washington State hosts UC Riverside on Dec. 15.