JaQuan Lyle’s three-point attempt at the buzzer hit the rim, then the backboard and fell to the ground. The miss was the last play of New Mexico’s 88-85 loss to San Jose State on Wednesday night in San Jose. The loss by the Lobos makes them 13-3 overall and 2-1 in Mountain West Conference play.
The Lobos showed a ton of resiliency in this game by coming back from an 18-point deficit in the second half to take a lead at one point of 85-84 with 16 seconds to go. But, a couple of huge buckets and a turnover by Zane Martin late sealed the Lobos’ fate in this one.
This loss is a tough one to swallow for many reasons; first, the Lobos had a 23-9 first half lead and were cruising until turnovers and hot San Jose State shooting took over. Secondly, as was talked about in the preview, the Lobos needed this win to stay with San Diego State and Utah State at the top of the MWC. Unfortunately, this loss is one that will put the Lobos behind the Aztecs in the regular season race.
The Lobos looked solid over the last 12:56 of the game, even taking the aforementioned 85-84 lead down the stretch, but for the first 27:04 of the contest UNM committed 15 turnovers and were just 5-of-12 from the free throw line. Hopefully the Lobos will carry some of the momentum they had over the final minutes into next week’s contest versus Fresno State.
Vance Jackson and JaQuan Lyle led the way for the Lobos with 25 points each. It was a welcomed sight to see Vance step up on Wednesday night, his previous season high was 14 against Houston Baptist. This is Jackson’s fourth straight game in double-figures and going forward the Lobos will need more of it.
Lyle’s 25 was good to see too, especially after scoring just three against UC-Davis. However, his six turnovers really hurt as some were overthrown passes to teammates in transition. His eight assists to show that once Lyle and his teammates are clicking, they are difficult to slow down.
The Lobos will have their next two contests at home; versus Fresno State on January 7th and Air Force on January 11th, and though their overall winning streak has come to an end, they can help themselves immensely with wins in both of their games.
The Lobos need to cut back on their turnovers. Only having three during the final 15 minutes helped big time in the Lobos getting back into the contest, but 15 in the first 25 minutes of the ball game are going to be difficult to overcome no matter who they are playing. It hurt them bad in this one since San Jose State scored 29 points off UNM’s turnovers.
The three games in which JJ Caldwell and Carlton Bragg have missed have been close ones, and it might not change until they return. The Lobos are lacking depth in the front court and are also missing Caldwell’s ball handling that would come in handy on cutting down on the turnovers.
Lobo fans shouldn’t get too discouraged by this loss, if anything, they should be happy with the resiliency shown over the second half of the contest. There are some winnable games coming up and are still in the MWC race with 16 games still remaining. It all starts next Tuesday when Fresno State comes to The Pit for a clash.