With its lack of post strength, UMKC has had to rely on its shooting, defense and the all-around play of point guard Martez Harrison.
But the Kangaroos’ deficiency in the middle caught up with them Saturday in a 77-63 loss to New Mexico State at Municipal Auditorium.
The Aggies outrebounded the Kangaroos 38-13, with 6-10 center Tshilidzi Nephawe leading the way with 20 points and 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. In second-chance points, New Mexico State outscored UMKC 16-3.
UMKC was bidding to grab a share of first place in the Western Athletic Conference with New Mexico State. Instead, the Kangaroos, 5-3 in the WAC and 10-15 overall, fell two games behind the Aggies, 7-1 and 15-10.
New Mexico State got double-figures scoring from four starters and pulled away in the final moments at the free-throw line. The Aggies made 25 of 29 free throws in the game.
UMKC led by as many as eight points in the first half, taking a 25-17 lead on Frank Williams’ three-pointer with 6:37 left before the break. But New Mexico State closed the half strong, and the game was tied 34-34 at halftime.
It was 42-42 with 13 minutes remaining when New Mexico State’s Daniel Mullings completed a three-point play.
Darius Austin’s three-point play for UMKC tied the game 47-47, but New Mexico State scored eight straight points in about a minute.
UMKC got 19 points and five assists from Harrison, and 15 points from Reese Holliday.
In their victory Thursday over Texas-Pan American, the Kangaroos forced 28 turnovers. The Aggies were more careful, committing 16 miscues.
New Mexico State completed a season sweep of the Kangaroos, who fell at home in conference play for the first time this season.
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @BlairKerkhoff.