Jahshire Hardnett had a career-high 28 points as Kansas City held off Seattle in triple overtime in the WAC opener for both teams. Courtesy of Kansas City Athletics.

Hardnett, New Mexico State Highlight Opening Weekend of WAC Hoops

Jahshire Hardnett. Remember that name at the end of the season. Hardnett put on a show in the opening weekend of WAC Hoops as Kansas City had two big wins.

New Mexico State put on an offensive clinic in the second half at California Baptist on Saturday to avenge its only conference loss a season ago.

And Taze Moore flew out of nowhere to seal a conference-opening win for CSU Bakersfield and snap a pretty impressive GCU streak.

So let’s get into the details of what happened on the opening weekend of WAC Hoops.

Big Shot Hardnett Strikes Twice

If you weren’t watching the WAC Digital Network on Thursday night, you missed out. Jahshire Hardnett scored 18 of his game-high 28 points over three overtime periods to help Kansas City beat Seattle, 90-86, in the WAC opener for both teams. Perhaps the biggest bucket of the night was Hardnett’s 3-pointer with one second remaining in the first overtime. It’s the shot that sent the game into a second overtime. 

On Saturday night, Hardnett scored the final seven points of the game against Utah Valley to help the Roos win 68-63. Hardnett hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a hand in his face that gave Kansas City a 64-63 lead. And the Roos (9-7, 2-0) never looked back. Hardnett hit four free throws to seal the win and put the Roos atop the WAC standings. 

Hardnett averaged 22.5 points, 3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in both WAC games. The BYU transfer shot 50 percent from the field, was 7-13 from 3-point land and 8-9 at the charity stripe in the two wins. Big time weekend for a big time player. And this is all after he hit the game-winning shot on his birthday at South Dakota on Dec. 22.

New Mexico State Avenges Lone Conference Loss in Dominant Fashion

It is true that New Mexico State has dominated the WAc. In 2018-19, the Aggies lost just one conference game. And yes, it was in their WAC opener at California Baptist. Fast forward a year. The Aggies had to go to Riverside to open WAC play once again. But, despite trailing 37-36 at halftime on Saturday night, the Aggies weren’t going to lose again in their WAC opener. Trevelin Queen and Johnny McCants combined for 27 second-half points as New Mexico State used a dominant second half to pull away with an 86-71 win at the CBU Events Center.

Terrell Brown hit three 3-pointers and had his best game of the season in the WAC-opening win for New Mexico State. Courtesy New Mexico State Athletics.

“We talked about what an opportunity this was for us,” New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans said. “A lot of coaches talk about statement games and talk about how you’re going to react when it’s hard, and this was one for us. I was anxious to see how we were going to respond in the second half when it seems like the chips were against us, and they responded well”

The Aggies (10-6 overall, 1-0 WAC) scored 50 second-half points, hit seven 3-pointers in the second half and dominated the offensive glass. New Mexico State had 17 offensive boards that led to 25 second-chance points. Compare that to the fact that CBU (10-5 overall, 1-1 WAC) only had eight offensive boards and three second-chance points and there is your ball game. 

The win snapped CBU’s seven-game winning streak and ended a 5-game home winning streak. Perhaps the only bad news for the Aggies is that Clayton Henry is out for the season. And, A.J. Harris was seen on crutches after halftime. Either way, the Aggies made the statement that everything runs through Las Cruces once again.

Moore, CSU Bakersfield Knock Off Grand Canyon

When GCU took a 50-38 lead with 10:47 left to play, it looked like the Lopes were on their way to their seventh straight WAC opening win. 

De’Monte Buckingham and Taze Moore had other ideas. Buckingham hit two 3-pointers and Moore added another one on three straight possessions to make it a three-point game with 9:36 to play. 

Following a Carlos Johnson layup that gave GCU a 54-47 lead with 8:06 to play, the Roadrunners took control. CSU Bakersfield (7-9 overall, 1-0 WAC) finished the game on a 22-8 run to knock off the Lopes 69-62. And perhaps the biggest play of the game came with CSU Bakersfield leading 65-62 with 30 seconds remaining. GCU’s Carlos Johnson drove to the basket and looked to have an easy layup. However, Moore came out of nowhere, and in Lebron-esque fashion, swatted away the layup attempt to seal the win. 

Buckingham finished with a game-high 25 points while Moore chipped in 15 points. It is the first time since joining the WAC that GCU has lost a WAC opener

Other Games

Utah Valley 94, Chicago State 73

California Baptist 76, UTRGV 67

Seattle 86, Chicago State 54

WAC Standings

  1. Kansas City 2-0, 9-7
  2. 2. New Mexico State 1-0, 10-6
  3. CSU Bakersfield 1-0, 7-9
  4. CBU 1-1, 10-5
  5. Seattle 1-1, 8-9
  6. Utah Valley 1-1, 7-10
  7. GCU 0-1, 5-10
  8. UTRGV 0-1, 4-10
  9. Chicago State 0-2, 4-13

About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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