Randy Bennett's Saint Mary's squads always have a high energy guard leading the attack. Tonight, Kerry Carter stepped up and into that role to lead the Gaels past the Aggies at McKeon Pavilion.
While fellow senior Brad Waldow was stuck to the bench after getting into early foul trouble, Carter flew around the floor picking up 10 points, six rebounds and five assists in the first half. Carter finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists. His energy and poise in the first half saw the Gaels through an ugly start and into halftime with a comfortable 45-31 lead.
For a game that tipped off just after midnight local time there sure was a lot of energy from the players on the floor. That said, it was clear the players' minds weren't exactly the sharpest as both the Gaels and Aggies committed three turnovers within the first three minutes.
Looking at the shooting statistics doesn't show just how sloppy this game actually was. Both teams managed to find easy buckets through defensive breakdowns or in transition after turnovers.
A Dane Pineau dunk at the 11:49 mark was followed 13 seconds later by a dunk from Remi Barry. Later in the same minute New Mexico State stole the ball then promptly coughed it back up at the other end.
Frenetic, back-and-forth action dominated the first quarter of the game.
Down the stretch of the first half however, the Gaels found their groove. Kerry Carter finished the half with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists. He and the Gaels figured out how to break the Aggies' press while simultaneously ratcheting up their defense.
Saint Mary's shut down New Mexico State from the field for nearly 12 minutes spanning the break, from 6:34 in the first to 14:49 in the second.
Daniel Mullings and Remi Barry led the way for the Aggies with 18 and 17 points respectively. Their solid performances will be overlooked by the Aggies' turnovers, foul trouble and general inability to shoot the basketball, much less make baskets, for long stretches.
The Aggies' effort must be commended. After the clock had passed 2:00 a.m. with a 21 point deficit they kept battling back. A 13-2 run in the final moments cut the Gaels' lead to 75-67. It was a pair of Kerry Carter free throws that put that run to an end, they were his first points of the second half.
Carter pushed the Gaels in the first half but a balanced attack saw them through to victory. Brad Waldow finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Aaron Bright led all scorers with 21 points. Garrett Jackson added 16 and 6.
Saint Mary's (2-0) hosts Denver on Thursday. New Mexico State (0-2) will catch a morning flight back home before playing Northern Colorado tomorrow.