Players and coaches ecstatically jumped up and down, filling The Pit’s red tunnel in a lively celebration after
Nevada (14-3, 3-1 MW) stunned New Mexico (9-7, 2-2 MW) by dealing the Lobos their first loss of the season at WisePies Arena 105-104 in overtime after an improbable comeback.
The game was back and forth during the first two minutes. New Mexico went on top 8-7 after a jumper by Jalen Harris at the 15:51
By halftime, New Mexico was up 44-31 and seemed to be playing solid in almost every aspect of the game.
The 3-point line had not been kind to the Lobos, as they have struggled to score or defend the deep ball all season. But things looked promising as UNM made four from beyond the arc and surrendered just 2-of-10 to the opponent.
Redshirt junior guard Elijah Brown lays face down on the court after missing a last minute buzzer shot Saturday, Jan. 7, 2016 at WisePies Arena. The Lobos lost to Nevada University 105-104 in overtime.
The Lobos were also 6-of-6 at the free throw
The second half seemed like it belonged to New Mexico, who stayed in control and enjoyed its largest lead of 25 points after Sam Logwood nailed a three with 11 minutes remaining to make the score 74-49.
Several Lobo fans, likely feeling confident their team would get the win, began to leave the arena.
But things began to unravel, slow at first — then seemingly all at once.
"We took some quick shots in the clock and quick shots when we were up,” UNM head coach Craig Neal said. “If you don't go down and get a few defensive stops, it's going to hurt you."
The Lobos were still up 21 with less than nine minutes to play in
But just as with the Utah State loss, three became the magic number.
3-point shooting was probably the only way for the Wolf Pack to get back in the game, and the shots began to pour in like running water.
Some were open looks that should have been contested harder, others found the way into the basket despite a high degree of difficulty.
The Wolf Pack forced overtime after banking home its last two long-range shots to tie the score 94-94.
When the damage was assessed, the Wolf Pack had converted 11 3-point shots in just 11 minutes. They made six of them in the final 1:03, including five in a row to close the second half.
The Lobos didn’t help matters by missing six free throws in the final minute, any number of which could’ve iced the game.
The tie resulted in an additional
The Lobos led by five with 2:52 remaining, but Nevada converted on a pair of free throws, followed by a Cameron Oliver dunk to cut it to 103-102 with 38 seconds remaining.
UNM’s Elijah Brown drew a foul with eight seconds remaining in overtime, but only managed to sink one of his two free throw attempts — which proved to be huge.
If Brown had made both free throws, the Lobos would’ve had the luxury to foul Nevada once they passed mid-court to prevent a 3-point attempt.
But with New Mexico up 104-102, that strategy became less appealing and the Lobos chose not to employ it, as the only way they could lose was by giving up another three.
In hindsight, maybe fouling would’ve been in the Lobos’ best
It was Nevada’s 15th make from beyond the arc and the final nail in the coffin of a 105-104 epic Wolf Pack comeback and Lobo collapse.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even supposed to go to me,” Caroline said with a smile. “I got it, I saw a look, I liked and I just took it. There wasn’t too much to it.”
Brown made a last-ditch effort to get up a
Caroline was undoubtedly the hero of the night, as he contributed an impressive total of 45 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and five blocks to lead the charge.
It was the most points scored by a Nevada player since the 1990-91 season and the most an opponent has ever scored at the Pit.
New Mexico wasted a solid effort by Brown and senior forward Tim Williams, both of whom scored 26 points in the losing effort.
"Those were some tough lessons for our boys," Neal said. "I don't think I have ever been in a game like that. You have to give them (Nevada) credit for their fight."
Nevada’s 25-point comeback is tied for the
“It goes forward. You just have to keep playing, keep getting better,” Neal said. “It’s a long season so
Isabel Gonzalez is former a sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. She mainly covered men’s soccer and basketball. She can be reached at sports @dailylobo.com or on Twitter @cisabelg.