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New Mexico Downs Montana State 81-78 for Third Win of the Season

by Steve Kirkland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team posted a hard-fought 81-78 victory over Montana State on Saturday afternoon at The Pit. The Lobos (3-1) held off the Bobcats (1-3) in the second half to remain unbeaten at home this season.

Jamal Mashburn, Jr. scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Lobos, his second 20-point game of the season. Gethro Muscadin tied a career high with 18 points and had a career-high 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, while KJ Jenkins scored a season-high 17 points off the bench.

The Lobos held the lead for the first nine minutes of the game before the Bobcats drew even, 14-14, at the midway point of the half. Montana State took its first lead, 18-17, with 7:30 in the half before UNM responded with a 7-0 run to take a 24-18 lead. After MSU answered back to retake the lead at 29-26, back-to-back threes by Jenkins and Javonte Johnson gave the Lobos back the lead, which they took into halftime, 36-33. Mashburn scored 12 first half points to lead UNM.

Early in the second half the Lobos pushed the lead to 51-43 with 13:30 to go after a 4-point play by Jenkins. UNM held a 60-53 lead at the midway point of the second half before the Bobcats used an 11-0 run to take a 64-60 lead with 7:00 to go. The Lobos tied the game with 4:50 to play on a putback from Johnson before taking a 72-68 lead with 2:45 left. UNM led by two, 77-75 with a minute to play when Muscadin was fouled on an offensive rebound with 32.5 left. He made both free throws to push the lead to 79-75 before grabbing the defensive rebound on the other end to give the Lobos the ball back with 11 seconds to play. Jenkins made 1-of-2 from the line before a MSU 3-pointer with three seconds left cut the lead to 80-78. Jenkins was fouled again with 2.6 left and made 1-of-2 to close out the 81-78 victory.

• New Mexico won the rebounding battle for the first time this season
• Mashburn has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games, dating back to last season at Minnesota
• Muscadin has scored in double figures in three games this season, all three wins
• The Lobos have had a different starting five in all four games this season
• Javonte Johnson made his first start of the season

“It was a fun game … a Saturday afternoon in The Pit and the crowd was awesome. Our guys fed off it, especially in the second half, with some unbelievable hustle plays. We scratched and clawed for rebounds, we hadn’t done that yet. Gethro was terrific. KJ was great. Javonte made some big plays. That (Montana State) is a very-well coached team. That is a veteran ball club and I knew it would be hard. I am appreciative of the fans, they were terrific. This is a tough place to play when it is rolling.” – Head Coach Richard Pitino

The Lobos conclude the three-game homestand on Monday as they host Western New Mexico at 7 p.m. at The Pit.