With the number of fouls called in New Mexico’s 89-78 win at Fresno State on Saturday, one can’t help but wonder if the referees ran out of breath when the final buzzer sounded.
Both teams combined for 52 fouls in the game, and Fresno State’s 27 fouls resulted in 29 made free throws on 41 attempts by UNM. That’s three more successful foul shots than the Lobos made from the field. On the other end, UNM committed 25 fouls and Fresno State drained 26 of 33 free throws.
Most of the fouls occurred in the second half as the referees blew their whistles 21 times on UNM and 22 against Fresno State. The Lobos shot twice as many foul shots (38) as they did field goals (19) in the second half.
UNM forward Cameron Bairstow and guard Hugh Greenwood, along with Fresno State’s Watson and Davis, fouled out. Three other players – UNM guard Kendall Williams and Fresno State’s Edo and Harris – reached four fouls.
“I’ve been in more physical pillow fights than that game tonight,” Greenwood tweeted after the game.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Lobos committed 17.4 fouls per game though 16 contests. The season-high mark of 27 fouls occurred against Alabama-Birmingham, and that game went to two overtimes.
The Lobos (13-4, 4-1 MW) remained a perfect 3-0 in Mountain West road games this season and bounced back from Wednesday’s home loss against rival UNLV.
Bairstow continued his hot scoring touch with another 22-point effort against the Bulldogs, though this time it came primarily from the free throw line. He connected on 14 of his 19 attempts from the charity stripe, shooting 4 of 8 from the field.
Freshman guard Cullen Neal drained the most field goals of any player, making six of his 10 shots. With three more foul shots, he tallied 17 points.
In a first half containing six lead changes, UNM closed out the first 20 minutes with a 10-0 run and never trailed again. The Lobos maintained a four- to 18-point advantage throughout the second half.
Three other Lobos joined Bairstow and Neal in double-figure scoring. Williams netted 13 points, all five of his foul shots, Alex Kirk posted 12 points (two free throws) and Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas had 10 points (four free throws).
Johnson paced Fresno State with 16 points, followed by Guerreo and Harris with 15 apiece and Watson with 12.
For the game, UNM was 53.1 percent on field goals (26 of 49) while Fresno State shot 36.7 percent (22 of 60).