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UNM drops close contest with Broncos at the Pit

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By The Staff

The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team suffered a narrow 73-71 loss to Boise State after leading by as many as 13 points on Tuesday night in Dreamstyle Arena - The Pit. The Lobos led by six with 1:47 left but an 8-0 run by the Broncos over the final minute sealed the Lobo loss.

Boise State led for just 2:34 the entire night while the Lobos held the advantage for 36:28 before the final Bronco push.

“Their offensive rebounding really hurt us, and our offensive ineptitude really got us in the second half,” head coach Paul Weir said. “We, unfortunately, turned the ball over at some really inopportune times, on some really basic plays.”
“...Our defense really stepped up tonight and had a pretty good game, and our offense really let us down...We have to get better offensively, it was a rough night.”

The Lobos ultimately outshot the Broncos 46.2 percent to 43.5 percent from the floor, but UNM had a commanding 55.2 percent to 39.3 percent advantage at the halfway mark. In the second half, Boise State roared back with a 47.1 shooting percentage while UNM shot just 34.8 percent from the field.

UNM dominated from behind the arc, connecting on 11 3-point attempts while the Broncos scored just four from 3-point land. Tuesday’s contest marked the sixth straight game that the Lobos have scored 10 3-pointers or more, a feat which the squad has achieved 17 times this season.

Junior Anthony Mathis led the Lobos in scoring with 17 points, going 4-for-6 from behind the arc, 5-for-10 from the floor, followed by classmate Dane Kuiper (11 points, 5 rebounds) and senior Antino Jackson (10 points, 3 assists).

Senior Joe Furstinger collected eight points and seven rebounds along with a new career-high five blocks.

Mathis is riding a 12-game streak scoring in double figures.

The Lobos began the game with high energy in front of their home crowd of 11,357, getting out to an early four-point lead, 10-6. The early advantage was fueled by a quick eight points from Kuiper, who tallied a pair of threes and a jumper in the first 3:32 of the game.

Boise State called its first timeout when junior Chris McNeal hit a three to make it 19-14 and the Broncos came out of the timeout to tie it, 19-19. The Broncos called three of their four timeouts in the first half of the game.

With 6:24 left in the first half, Kuiper hit a jumper to put UNM up by three, 28-25. It was then that Mathis posted back-to-back 3-pointers to jump ahead by nine, followed by a pair of free throws for a 10-0 run, eight of which were off the fingertips of Mathis.

UNM went into the break with a commanding 11-point lead, 40-29, and was able to maintain at least a five-point advantage until the 5:12 mark in the second half when Boise State cut it to four. The teams went back-and-forth but the Lobos went up by seven on a pair of free throws from senior Antino Jackson with 3:03 left.

It was then that the Broncos turned up the gas, closing on a 10-2 run from there for the win.

The Lobos led with 53 seconds on the clock, 71-68, but after BSU standout Chandler Hutchison stole the ball from junior Troy Simons and followed it with a dunk, the Lobos found themselves up by just one, 71-70, with just 22 seconds left. A defeated-looking Lobo squad then took a timeout, committed a turnover, missed a 3-pointer and committed a foul, all within 11 seconds.

Hutchison hit a layup to take the lead 72-71 with 16 seconds left, and was followed with a free throw from Justinian Jessup to clinch the win with nine seconds on the clock.

The Lobos are set to return to action on Saturday, Feb. 10, as they travel to Air Force for a 2 p.m. contest to be aired live on ESPN3.