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Mustangs Fall Below .500

After falling behind by as many as 15 in the first half, the Western New Mexico University men’s basketball team chipped away, tying the game late before Regis made clutch foul shots down the stretch to edge the Mustangs, 63-62, Friday in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference action.

Regis University (RU) came out on fire, jumping out to a 27-12 lead with eight minutes to go before halftime.

Western New Mexico University (WNMU) kept their composure and began to work their way back into the contest. It started with a jumper by Ryan Crane and then Chad Carter took over with a layup and jumper to pull WNMU (4-7, 3-4 RMAC) within nine. Later in the half, Carter closed the scoring with a dunk leaving the Mustangs behind by just six, 29-23, at the break.

The momentum carried into the second half, with Carter hitting a layup to start the second stanza, which Lucio Luttrell followed with a layup and then Daryl Littleton posted a dunk to tie the game at 29 two minutes in.

WNMU finally fought back to take the lead on a pair of Littleton free throws two minutes later and pushed the lead to three, 33-30, on a pair from the charity stripe by Luttrell.

Several ties would follow, as after the sixth tie occurred with 7:56 to play at 45, RU (3-6, 2-4 RMAC) came back to go on a 5-0 run and a 50-45 lead with 6:28 to play.

Trailing by as much as eight, 57-49, with 3:54 to go, WNMU once again made another comeback. Juan Suarez triggered the run with a layup, which Carter then added to that with a pair of free throws and then a fastbreak layup to trim the deficit to two, 57-55, with 2:41 to play.

Merle Branch came away with a big steal on the next defensive possession and found Andy Sohlich in transition for the layup to tie the game at 57 with still two minutes to play. RU countered with a pair of free throws for the two-point lead.

Each team would then have their opportunities, with WNMU missing a running jumper in the lane by Carter and then Dionte Goodlett missed a forced three-pointer for RU which WNMU pulled down the rebound with a minute to play still trailing by two.

The Mustangs quickly pushed the ball and Luttrell went for the lead on a three-pointer, but the shot missed which the Rangers collected the rebound. RU would chew up the clock before making a drive at under 20 seconds to play when Carter was whistled for a foul sending the Rangers to the line.

Jarrett Green converted both to push the lead to four, 61-57, with 15 seconds to play.

Sohlich went for a three on the ensuing possession for WNMU and was fouled as the shot missed. He connected on the first two, but missed the third leaving RU still ahead by two.

Green again was fouled and made both from the line to push the RU lead to four, 63-59, with six seconds to play.

Luttrell would end up hitting a three at the buzzer, leaving the Rangers with the narrow one-point win.

RU made 23-of-51 (45.1) from the field, while WNMU made 21-of-53 (39.6). RU made two more three-pointers (4-2), while WNMU held an 18-to-13 advantage at the free throw line.

Carter paced the Mustangs going for 20 points, along with five rebounds. Luttrell was also in double-figures with 11 points and had a double-double with 10 rebounds. Sohlich came off the bench with 12 points in 19 minutes.

RU’s Green led all-scorers with 25 points.

WNMU will play at Metro State Saturday night beginning at 7 p.m. Metro State defeated New Mexico Highlands, 92-71, Friday night and are ranked No. 2 in the nation.

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