San Jose, CA – Dwayne Evans scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half as Saint Louis pulled away late to take a 64-44 decision over New Mexico State on Thursday in NCAA Tournament second round action.
Cody Ellis had 12 points and made 3-of-4 shots from behind the arc to go along with six rebounds for the fourth-seeded Billikens (28-6), who set a new school record for wins and advance to the third round for the second straight year, to face 12th-seeded Oregon.
Cory Remekun added 11 points and six boards, while Evans also pulled down six rebounds in the victory.
"Coming into this game coach talked a lot about just not being happy to be here," Evans said. "That we're here to win games. That's the difference from last year just because we weren't experienced. After getting here last year, I think guys have different expectations this year."
Bandja Sy paced New Mexico State with 17 points and had nine rebounds for the 13th-seeded Aggies (24-11), who have lost their last seven NCAA Tournament games and haven't won in the tournament since 1993.
New Mexico State had won five straight coming in and was making its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. The Aggies earned a spot in the postseason after capturing their second straight WAC title.
After an Aggies rally to the start the second half had them within six points, Saint Louis re-opened a double-digit lead around the midway point of the half. Remekun kicked off and capped a 12-3 swing which saw Saint Louis take a 51-36 edge with 8 1/2 minutes remaining.
The damage had been done, as the Aggies had no answer after fighting back, and the Billikens' lead grew to 60-39 with 4:19 to play before cruising to victory.
Sy scored New Mexico State's first seven points to start the second half with a spark, as his triple two-plus minutes in closed the gap to 33-23. Evans though, returned the favor, scoring six of his team's first eight points of the second half, the last being a layup that made it 37-23.
The Aggies answered with a 10-2 spurt capped off by two Sy free throws which made it 39-33 at the 12:57 mark, but the contest changed from there.
"We had to rebound, like I said, and then take care of the ball," New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said. "And I thought we did a good job in a couple of those areas, but at the end of the day we turned the ball over 16 times, which you're not going to win a NCAA tournament doing that unless you're turning the other team over 16 times as well."
Saint Louis jumped out to an early 11-4 lead, while New Mexico State struggled offensively. The Aggies' deficit quickly grew to 24-10 on Remekun's slam with 4 1/2 minutes to play in the first half.
The Billikens took a 29-16 edge into the break, with Evans connecting on seven of his first 11 shots after 20 minutes of play. New Mexico State, however, made just 8-of-31 field goal attempts and had nine turnovers.
Evans became the 28th player in Saint Louis history to join the 1,000-point scoring club ... NMSU's Sim Bhullar, a freshman who is the tallest player in Division I at 7-foot-5, finished with four points and 11 boards ... New Mexico State has a 10-22 record in the postseason tournament ... It was the seventh meeting in the all-time series which SLU leads, 5-2. Both teams also met in the 1952 NCAA Tournament ... The Billikens' fourth seed is the best over eight postseason appearances ... New Mexico State also lost last year as a 13 seed, falling to Indiana, 79-66 ... The Aggies shot a mere 27.9 percent and turned the ball over 15 times.