The Redhawks played the Aggies close for the game's first few minutes and went into halftime facing a nine-point deficit. Seattle U cut the lead to four early in the second half, but then NMSU center Tshilidzi Nephawe began to dominate during a 14-2 run that essentially put it away for the Aggies.
Nephawe, listed at 6-foot-10 and 265 pounds, finished with 22 points and eight rebounds. His contributions were complemented by 7-5, 350-pound Sim Bhullar, whose stat line (3 pts, 5 rebs, 4 asts, 4 blks) didn't capture his full impact on the game.
New Mexico State (18-8 overall, 7-3 in the WAC) has been to three of the last four NCAA tournaments, but Seattle U (11-11, 3-6) has played them close over the last two seasons at home and on the road. Saturday's game simply came down to the Aggies being too big, too athletic and too deep. Six players scored in double figures for NMSU.
"They are good, and after losing three in a row on the road, we knew they were going to come in and fight without giving up any ground," SU coach Cameron Dollar said. "Our guys fought hard and didn’t quit, which was good to see."
The Redhawks could've used the 6-9, 245-pound Sunderhaus, who was the team's top rebounder and second-leading scorer before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Starting point guard Isiah Umipig led Seattle U with 24 points, while backup point guard D'Vonne Pickett scored 18 off the bench. Sophomore center Jack Crook added nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.