Sim Bhullar logged a double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds, adding five blocked shots, as the New Mexico State Aggies held on to defeat the Seattle Redhawks, 70-68, in the quarterfinals of the 31st annual Western Athletic Conference Tournament at Orleans Arena.
Also scoring in double figures for second-seeded New Mexico State (24-9), the two-time defending tournament champion, were DK Eldridge and Tshilidzi Nephawe with 19 and 15 points, respectively.
The seventh-seeded Redhawks (13-17) were paced by Isiah Umipig with a game- high 25 points, but he shot just 9-of-27 from the floor, including 5-of-16 behind the 3-point line. Jack Crook registered a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, followed by D'Vonne Pickett Jr. with 10 points and six of the team's eight assists.
NMSU had trouble finding the basket in the first half, converting just eight total field goals, but thanks to a near-perfect 14-of-15 showing at the free- throw line in the frame, the Aggies trailed by just two at the break, 33-31.
In the second half New Mexico State again took advantage at the charity stripe (11-of-14), in addition to connecting on 54.2 percent from the floor in order to hold on for the victory.
Seattle managed to force 16 turnovers on the night, exchanged for 15 points, but that still was not enough to overcome a 25-11 deficit at the free-throw line.
The Aggies will be back in action on Friday night in the semifinals against Cal State Bakersfield, which defeated Chicago State earlier on Thursday, 68-62.