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Men’s Basketball Rallies, But Falls Short In Overtime Against NMSU, 81-69

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: December 14, 2013
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DES MOINES, Iowa - The Drake University men’s basketball team erased a 15-point deficit to force overtime in an 81-69 loss to New Mexico State on Saturday evening at the Knapp Center.

Facing a team ranked No. 14 in the latest collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, Drake (6-3) was led by Richard Carter’s (Detroit, Mich.) 21 points while Jordan Daniels (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored 18 points in his Drake debut and made three free throws with less than four seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

NMSU (8-5) was paced by a pair of double-double from Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe. Bullar, a 7-foot, 5-inch center scored 22 points with 12 boards while Nephawe added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the defending Western Athletic Conference champions.

“I’m proud that we found the courage to fight our way back into it and that tells a lot about who we are,” Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti said. “We just kind of lost some steam once we got into overtime.”

The Bulldogs never led and tied the game for the first time with 3.5 seconds left when Daniels was fouled on a three-point attempt on the left elbow with the Bulldogs trailing, 67-64. The Boston College transfer, who was playing in his first game at Drake after sitting out a year, calmly drained the first two free throws before NMSU called a timeout. Out of the timeout, Daniels sank the third free throw to tie the game while defense got a stop on an NMSU three-pointer as time expired.

However, the Aggies dominated the overtime period with Bhullar converting on a three-point play 30 seconds into the period to build a quick cushion. Drake’s offense couldn’t answer the charge with a Carter layup accounting for the team’s only bucket in the period.

Just getting the game into overtime seemed unlikely at halftime as the Bulldogs faced a 39-25 deficit following a half in which they shot just 21.9 percent and committed nine turnovers while being outrebounded by 14 by NMSU’s imposing frontcourt.

“I don’t know how many shots they altered or blocked,” Giacoletti said. “We got a lot of shots at the rim and just couldn’t finish. They did a great job.”

Jacob Enevold Jensen (Lunderskov, Denmark) helped turn that tide in the second half with a career-high 13 rebounds to put the Bulldogs even with NMSU on the glass for the night.

Drake erased its second-half deficit thanks to a 10-2 run that featured five of Chris Caird’s (Daventry, England) 13 points, including his first clutch three-pointer of the evening to pull Drake within two  points, 59-57 with 3:40 left in the contest. The junior college transfer drained another three-pointer three minutes later to pull within one point, 65-64, and eventually set up Daniels’ three free throws to tie the game and force overtime.

The Bulldogs remain home to host Western Michigan on Wednesday evening in the second game of a three-game homestand. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

“We found the fight and now we need to tweak a couple of things and get better from there,” Giacoletti said of preparing for Wednesday.

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