The Wildcats found the right plan of action in their 81-70 victory over Northern New Mexico College on Saturday afternoon in the Wildcat Center. The 'Cats who were 1-9 in the last six weeks of action were able to overcome a tough defensive effort by the Eagles.
Much of the first half had the two teams trading baskets with neither side holding more then a five point advantage. Northern New Mexico came back from a five point deficit to take control of the action and build their own five point lead to take the 41-36 lead into the break.
Out of the intermission, the Eagles struggled over the first few minutes of play and saw their lead go out the window. Johnson & Wales had a big three point basket by Geoffrey Todd to start to cut into the Eagles' lead and Kahler Grandbouche even the game at 41 off a second chance put back. Jake Campbell was all over the court and challenging every possession as well as successfully maneuvering himself through one tough shot after another.
The Eagles again built a five point lead to hold the 48-43 advantage with 15:04 left to play but the 'Cats wouldn't have any of it and quickly went on a 12-2 run over three and a half minutes to pull from NNMC. That was shortlived though as the Eagles went on a run of their own to tie the game for the 10th time at 64 all. Johnson & Wales made a team effort to go 11-3 and put the game out of reach for the Eagles.
Campbell led a quintet of 'Cats with 22 points. Campbell also had a game high 13 rebounds while Cody Derner brought down 10 boards to go along with his 12 points. Derner also had four steals for the 'Cats. Christian Barraza had 16 points for the Eagles and Orland Echave had 11 rebounds.
Johnson & Wales will travel to South Dakota next weekend and take on South Dakota Mines and Black Hills State.