Three seniors with very difficult career arcs played their last regular season finale in a Lobo uniform on Saturday at Dreamstyle Arena. They apparently didn't want the moment to end — opting to give the fans five additional minutes of basketball to appreciate their career contributions.
The University of New Mexico men's basketball team led for almost the entirety of the game, but found itself tied up at the end of regulation after squandering a seven-point lead in the final minute of the second half.
The Lobos got big contributions from everyone, but when the outcome was no longer in question — head coach Paul Weir gave fans an opportunity to show gratitude and his seniors a chance to savor the moment.
Senior guard Antino Jackson, a graduate transfer from Akron, hit what may have been the biggest shot of the game, rising up to knock down a straightaway 3-pointer to give his team an 88-84 advantage with 1:16 remaining in the overtime period.
He tacked on a free throw on the next possession, but fouled out moments later with 47 seconds left to play. His teammates finished the job though, picking up where he left off to sink six consecutive free throws to seal the 95-86 victory over Fresno State.
And in the waning seconds, fellow senior Sam Logwood was taken out of the game during a dead ball as the Pit crowd rose to its feet and gave the senior an ovation. Senior forward Joe Furstinger, who had two points and three defensive rebounds in the bonus session, received the same treatment a few seconds later.
Jackson said earlier in the year that he would probably cry when Senior Night came, but it was Logwood who had his emotions moved to tears as he spoke to the crowd following the game.
Sam Logwood #2:
Logwood missed several games during the regular season, due in part to injury and dealing with some personal issues, and it seemed unclear when — or even if — he would return to the hardwood to play.
But he found his way back to the basketball court after missing seven games and said he seemed to find a new appreciation for the game he loves.
And despite a layoff that lasted about a month and starting just 12 games this season, the 2017-18 campaign has been by far the most productive of his Lobo career. Logwood has nearly doubled his scoring average, hitting 50 percent of his shots from the floor on the way to a 13.2 point scoring average. He has also seen a huge jump in his free throw shooting percentage, making 80.8 percent of his attempts from the foul line.
He will probably be best remembered by fans for the punishing manner in which he attacks the basket, skying high to be on the receiving end of some of the most ferocious alley-oops Lobo fans have witnessed.
Logwood played all four years of his collegiate career at New Mexico and said he has aspirations to continuing playing basketball professionally.
Antino Jackson #3:
As a graduate transfer, his numbers as a Lobo are limited to just this season, meaning he had to make an immediate impact — despite not necessarily knowing what to expect when he decided to make Albuquerque his new home.
"Coming in as a graduate transfer, it's a gamble. You don't know what you're going to get," he said. "I'm just fortunate enough to have a good head coach and I go out there and play hard for him every single night, even when times are tough."
Jackson has averaged 10.3 points per game, while dishing out an average of 4.5 assists during the season. Though he has struggled at times turning the ball over, he still boasts an impressive 1.8:1 assist to turnover ratio and has exhibited the ability to take over a game at any given moment.
Joe Furstinger #5:
Like Logwood, Furstinger is also a four-year mainstay of the Lobo basketball team. He has increased his field goal and free throw shooting percentages in each of his seasons at UNM, hitting shots at a 55.3 percent clip and connecting on 79.8 percent of his attempts at the charity stripe this season.
The forward logged his 100th career block during a recent home game against UNLV and has added a few more to run his career total up to 103 and counting. Furstinger has collected 49 of those career blocks this season alone.
His role on the team has increased significantly this season, playing more than twice as many minutes as he has logged in year's past. He is the team's leading rebounder with 6.8 boards per game and has averaged 9.7 points per game.
Furstinger is one of the crowd favorites and would probably be best described as a "chippy" player who competes with a certain edge that many Lobo fans seem to appreciate and embrace, while at the same time frustrating opponents.
Things aren't over yet for the trio of seniors though. They will try to navigate the Lobos to a postseason berth by pursing a Mountain West Championship, which would earn them an automatic bid in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
New Mexico will await the winner of No. 6 Wyoming and No. 11 San Jose State when it begins its quest for a conference title on Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.