New Mexico St. 81, SW Louisiana 73
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ William Benjamin’s game-tying 3-pointer started a 9-0 run that carried New Mexico State to an 81-73 victory over Southwestern Louisiana in the second round of the NCAA West Regional on Sunday.
The Aggies made 16 consecutive free throws, eight by Chris Hickman, to end the game after Cliff Reed missed a pair which could have broken a tie with 3:20 left.
After Benjamin’s 3-pointer tied it at 65, Sam Crawford made two free throws to give New Mexico State a 67-65 lead with 2:50 remaining.
The Aggies (25-7), the region’s No. 12 seed, won their eighth straight despite missing many layups in the first half. They will return to their homestate for the regional semifinals in Albuquerque.
The Ragin’ Cajuns, the 13th seed, finished 21-11 after going without a field goal in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
Reed led all scorers with 21 points, Hickman had 18, and Crawford had 14 and 10 assists.
Todd Hill, Marcus Stokes and Michael Allen scored 15 each for the Cajuns.
There were eight lead changes in the first half, but the Cajuns stabilized things after taking a 19-18 edge with 9:34 to go, and it took a Crawford-led rally to cut the margin to 41-38 at halftime.
Allen, a reserve who played just 13 minutes in the first half, was 4-of-5 from 3-point range at halftime but missed all four attempts in the second half. He hit two straight during a 12-6 run which gave Southwestern a 35-26 lead with 4:15 remaining.
After Crawford led the Aggies back, Allen completed his 13-point half with a four-point play which expanded the lead to 39-34 with two minutes left.
Crawford tied it with a 3-pointer early in the second half and gave the Aggies a 47-46 lead with 17:17 to play. However, Southwestern’s Carroll Boudreaux answered with a layup, and the Aggies couldn’t catch up until the Cajuns hit their cold spell.