The New Mexico Lobos fell in both games of their series to the Fresno State Bulldogs on Thursday and Saturday nights.
In game one the Lobos hung around, forcing overtime against the Bulldogs. However, after building a 62-58 lead with 1:05 left to play in overtime, the Lobos collapsed.
Junior Ballard from Fresno State knocked down a three pointer with 58 seconds to play to pull the Bulldogs within 62-61. On the ensuing Lobo possession, Saquan Singleton made a bad pass that was stolen by Deon Stroud, who took it uncontested for a dunk to put Fresno State up 63-62.
Following that, the Lobos turned it over again, as Makuach Maluach lost the ball in the front court.
After an Isaiah Hill made free throw, the Lobos were unable to get off a shot before the buzzer, falling 64-62. This brough their record to 5-10 and 1-10 in the Mountain West Conference.
On Saturday, the Lobos shooting woes returned. New Mexico shot just 35% from the field for the game and were just 4-of-9 from the free throw line.
Despite this, the Lobos kept it close. Javonte Johnson made a layup for UNM with 9:34 remaining to get the Lobos within 45-44. From there, the Lobos got no closer than three points, and Fresno State was able to knock down their free throws to close out a 65-55 win.
With that loss, UNM is now 5-11 overall, 1-11 in the Mountain West, good enough for dead last in the standings.
It has been said many times that you need to lose close games before you learn how to win close games. With that being said, the Lobos were in prime position to win Thursday’s game before it slipped away. The need to make a big play outweighed the need to make a smart play and that got the Lobos in trouble. That will come with more experience and more times in that situation, which could come later this season.
The loss all but assures the Lobos having to play one of the early games in the MWC Tournament in early March.
What was positive came in the way of a negative. On Saturday’s contest, Rod Brown left with an injury, meaning that Kurt Wegscheider saw more playing time and he cashed in his opportunity. Wegscheider scored 10 points and collected eight rebounds in his 24 minutes.
Whether the injury to Brown is serious enough to keep him out a couple of games remains to be seen, but Wegscheider has definitely earned himself more playing time with his performance on Saturday.
As if things weren’t already difficult, they become more so in the upcoming week. The Lobos will take on San Diego State in a Wednesday/Friday series. UNM is not allowed to play home games in Albuquerque yet, so the site of those games with the Aztecs should be announced in the next day or so.
The Aztecs are 7-3 in the MWC and 13-4 overall, and can keep pace with the leaders of the MWC with wins against UNM.