LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Sometimes, you have to go home to find the range.
New Mexico State, which does not have a player shooting 50% or better from the floor, discovered its shooting touch in the Pan American Center Thursday night and rolled to a 75-59 Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. basketball victory over UC Irvine.
The Aggies (15-13 overall and 7-8 in conference) shot 37% from the field and 50% from the free-throw line in a 79-62 loss to the Anteaters in Irvine Jan. 30, but they connected on 54% of their field goal attempts and 89% (23 of 26) of their free throws this time. Irvine (14-11, 9-7) shot 51% from the floor, but made 2 of 4 free throws.
Seldom have two games between the same teams been more different. Irvine center Wayne Engelstad, who ripped through New Mexico State's matchup zone defense for 40 points in the first game, was stymied on this night. He finished with eight points, failing to score in double figures for the first time in 28 games.
Ironically, the last time he had fewer than 10 was Feb. 10, 1987, when he scored five in this facility against the Aggies.
"This is the fourth straight matchup zone we've faced, and all of sudden we act like it's something we've never seen before," Irvine Coach Bill Mulligan said. "We were confused. Our players looked like they were groggy or something."
In Irvine, the Anteaters' pressure man-to-man defense forced nine first-half turnovers and New Mexico State trailed at halftime, 40-19. Thursday night, Irvine did little more than chase the Aggies and watch them score layups.
Meanwhile, Irvine's four post players--Engelstad, Frank Woods, Mike Doktorczyk and Ed Johansen--attempted a total of 17 shots and scored 18 points.
Guards Kevin Floyd (15 points) and Mike Hess (12) were the only Anteaters in double figures.