Open Announce

Lobos Fall to Air Force 78-77

by Steve Kirkland

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico men’s basketball team suffered a 78-77 loss to Air Force on Saturday afternoon at The Pit. The Lobos (21-7, 9-6 MW) came up short after a back-and-forth second half with the Falcons (9-17, 2-12 MW).

Nelly Junior Joseph led the Lobos with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Jamal Mashburn, Jr. scored 16 points, Donovan Dent scored 14 points and Mustapha Amzil had 12 points.

The Lobos jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, highlighted by Jaelen House’s first 4-point play of his career. UNM pushed the advantage to 13-5 with 14:25 in the half before Air Force used a 10-1 run to take a 19-16 at the midway point of the half. The Lobos retook the lead, 26-24, with 5:15 to play before the teams traded the lead for several minutes. Air Force would take a 37-36 lead into halftime as Joseph led the Lobos with 10 points and six rebounds in the first half.

In the second half, the Falcons pushed the lead to 48-42 over the first four minutes of play. After the Falcons led 55-48 with 13:00 to go, UNM closed the gap to 58-57 at the midway point of the half. UNM would tie the game at 59-59 before a 6-0 Air Force run gave it a 65-59 lead with 7:30 left. A 11-0 Lobo run gave them their first lead of the second half, 70-65, with 4:15 to go. Air Force tied the game, 70-70, with 3:00 to play before back-to-back baskets by Mashburn gave UNM a four-point lead with 1:45 to go. The Lobos led 76-75 with 1:00 to go before a free throw gave them a two-point lead 34 seconds left. Air Force hit a three with seven seconds to go and the Lobos couldn’t hit the game-winner at the other end.

• New Mexico had a season-low three steals
• The Lobos have started the same five (Dent, Mashburn, House, Toppin, Joseph) in every conference game this season

“Give Air Force credit. They made big plays and made big threes. We were not intense enough in the first half. We were better in the second half. They packed the paint and we couldn’t hit threes, and that was a problem. We battled on the glass, but the game came down to the three point line. They made 11 and we only made three. In the end, they made one more play than we did. It was a missed opportunity and we know we are going to have to rebound from it.” – Richard Pitino

The Lobos will have a week off before a trip to Boise State on Mar. 2. Game time at ExtraMile Arena is 6 p.m. and the game will air on CBS Sports Network.