The Lobos had yet another slow start on Saturday as they hosted the Fresno State Bulldogs, but it was the second period that ultimately handed them an 81-73 loss.
With this result, New Mexico is now 11-14 overall, 5-8 in the conference. Fresno State improves to 19-6 overall, 10-3 in the Mountain West.
The Bulldogs saw foul trouble early as Braxton Huggins got two before the first minute of the game was over. This limited his time on the court to 4:32 in the period, which led him to zero points. However, Huggins paced himself during the second half and he finished the night with 19 points.
The only Bulldog with more points was Deshon Taylor who scored the last points of the night with a steal and a dunk to finish with 26 points. Taylor and Huggins made eight out of the 14 three-pointers Fresno State had. UNM head coach Paul Weir was impressed with their performance.
“They made about five threes from beyond NBA range, and quite honestly that is not something that we are going out to try and take away. I thought we did a good job at contesting some of them.” the coach said. “You have to tip your hat at some of those. They are great players making very deep shots.”
New Mexico’s shooting was not good at the beginning. By the 11:32 timeout, the Lobos were shooting at 28.6 percent from the field, while their opponents were at 41.7 percent. But even though the shooting percentage was not close, New Mexico was only trailing by four points as the scoreboard read 13-9 in favor of the visitors.
A three-point basket by Anthony Mathis tied the game at 13-13 at the 10:33 mark. However, the last couple of minutes of the period were the ones where the Lobos shone.
Redshirt sophomore Vance Jackson hit a three-pointer and gave the Lobos a 36-35 lead. He then added two more points from the free throw line to make the half-time score 39-35. Jackson finished the period leading all scorers with 20 points. He is the first Lobo to score 20 points in the first half since 2017.
New Mexico started the second period with a 5-0 run, but by the 15:51 timeout Fresno State was once again on top at 47-43. The Lobos’s shooting percentage had gone down to 36.4 percent.
Jackson took 13 minutes to score in the second half. While it took him some time to get hot again, Jackson would eventually finish the night with 30 points, the most he has ever scored as a Lobo.
Jackson reaches 30pts and makes it a one-point game at 71-70 (Fresno State leading, 3:06) pic.twitter.com/PK2MS2HEiL— The Lair New Mexico (@thelairnm) February 17, 2019
Corey Manigault had six points in the first period but added 10 more in the second. Mathis was the third Lobo with double digits at 13 points.
New Mexico made 13 out of its 15 free throws during the first period. However, the team didn’t do as well in the second half going 15 of 22 from the charity line. Jackson said he thought this, and lack of focus on defense, played a big role in his teams’ loss.
“I think on the defensive end, not talking for the open threes toward the end that Huggins and Taylor made,” Jackson said. “It was just not talking. We worked on that in practice, it’s just a lack of focus. That and the missed free throws, I feel like those were the two main keys.”
Up next, New Mexico hits the road to take on Utah State on Wednesday, then takes another road trip to face San Jose State on Tuesday Feb. 26.