ANCHORAGE – New Mexico State guard Christian Kabongo scored a game-high 23 points Saturday to lead his team to an 81-71 victory over San Francisco in the 3rd-place game of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout at Sullivan Arena.
The Aggies (5-1) also got 17 points and eight rebounds from forward Wendell McKines, plus 12 points and seven assists from guard Hernst Laroche, as they claimed seven Shootout free-throw records.
The Dons (5-3) were led by 22 points from forward Angelo Caloiaro but were outrebounded 36-22 and outscored 30-13 at the free-throw line.
USF, which placed fifth in its first-ever Shootout appearance, led for most of the game, including a 57-50 advantage on Rashard Green’s layup with 11:21 to play. Back-to-back layups from NMSU’s Banja Sy and Tyrone Watson started a 15-2 run for the Aggies, however, and the Dons would never recover.
Kabongo finished 11 of 12 at the free-throw line, seeing his Shootout record of 30 straight come to an end early in the second half. The sophomore from Toronto set full-tournament marks for free throws made (34) and attempted (35), and he had a game-record 14-of-14 performance in Thursday’s opening-round win over Central Michigan.
As a team, the Aggies crushed the previous records for free throws made (95; previously 82 by UCLA, 1990) and attempted (131; previously 112 by Weber State, 1993) in a tournament. They also tied the record for charities in a game with 35 against CMU.
Center Hamidu Rahman was the fourth Aggie in double figures with 10 points.
The 1992 Shootout champion, New Mexico State is now 5-1 all-time at college basketball’s oldest regular-season tournament.