Open Announce

Lobos Roll to 90-71 Win over Pepperdine to Cap Unbeaten Trip to Vegas

by Steve Kirkland

HENDERSON, Nev. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team earned a share of the Ball Dawgs Classic title after downing Pepperdine 90-71 on Friday at the Dollar Loan Center to complete a 3-0 trip to the event. The Lobos (5-1) share the title with Indiana State and UC Irvine, who both also went 3-0 in the tournament.

Donovan Dent scored 24 points and had seven assists to lead the Lobos, who had five double-figure scorers for the second straight game. Tru Washington had his first career double-double with career highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds, along with five steals, in his first career start. Jemarl Baker, Jr. had a season-high 14 points, while Nelly Junior Joseph scored a season-high 13 points to go with a career-high five assists. JT Toppin added 11 points and eight rebounds.

The Lobos opened the game strong, scoring the game’s first 12 points over the first 3:30 of play. Pepperdine would answer with six straight before UNM extended the advantage to 26-11 with an 8-0 run 11 minutes left. A 17-2 run made UNM’s lead 44-17 with 4:55 to play as the Lobos took a 52-28 lead into the break. Dent had 15 points and six assists to lead New Mexico in the first half.

In the second half, Pepperdine closed the gap to 54-35 over the first 5:00 of play. After the Waves got as close as 18, UNM extended the advantage to 27 points at 73-46 with 9:00 to go. That would mark the largest lead of the game as UNM closed out the 19-point victory.

• The Lobos have scored at least 90 points in three straight games, their longest streak since the first four games of the 2019-20 season
•  New Mexico’s 52 first-half points are a high for the first half in the Pitino era (previous high was 50 – four times last season)
• UNM has won six straight games in November tournaments
• Tru Washington got his first career start, giving UNM four different starting lineups in the first six games of the season (three different starting lineups all of 2022-23)
•  Washington became the fourth different Lobo to have a double-double this season
• First game of the Pitino era without both All-Mountain West guards Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn, Jr. (both injured)

“Whenever you are delivered the bad news of Mashburn being out, guys have to step up. I thought we did a really good job defensively this trip. Rebounding was very good this trip, but I think our box score still needs to be more balanced. We certainly played for each other with five guys in double figures and 19 assists. If we hadn’t dropped a few back-cuts, we could have had 24 assists. And if we could have made our free throws, we would have scored in the high 90s or even 100 tonight. We were flying around defensively, especially in the first half. I am really proud of this group. I don’t know too many teams that could lose two important guards and play as well as we did.” – Richard Pitino

New Mexico returns home to begin a season-long three-game homestand on Wednesday as it hosts Louisiana Tech. Game time at The Pit is 7 p.m. and the game will air on the Mountain West Network.