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Sophomore guard/forward Sam Logwood closes his eyes as he walks back to the bench Wednesday night at WisePies Arena. The Lobos lost to Air Force 76-72.
Sophomore guard/forward Sam Logwood closes his eyes as he walks back to the bench Wednesday night at WisePies Arena. The Lobos lost to Air Force 76-72.

Men's Basketball: Lobos fall at Air Force for third straight time

Clune Arena at the Air Force Academy has become a difficult place to play since February began.

New Mexico is the latest victim to fall at the Falcons’ home venue, letting a nine-point lead slip away in a 76-72 loss at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Lobos (16-11, 9-5 MW) endured their third straight setback at Clune Arena over the last three seasons, as the Falcons now have two straight home wins. Prior to Saturday’s game, Air Force have beaten Wyoming, Boise State and UNLV since Feb. 2.

“I thought we played hard. I just didn’t think we played with discipline or smarts at the end,” head coach Craig Neal said in his postgame radio interview. “Any time you can go 11:30 and you let them score 32 points in the last 11 minutes, you’re not going to win.”

Whatever late-game magic UNM found in its come-from-behind win last Tuesday against the Broncos apparently ran out. A 3-pointer from Lobo guard Anthony Mathis put the Lobos ahead 53-44 with 11:30 left in the second half.

From there, Air Force went on an 8-0 run to bring the game within one point. UNM held a slim edge over the next few possessions, but with the score 66-61 the Falcons grabbed control with another rally. This time AFA scored 12 straight points to surge ahead 73-66.

Lobo guard Elijah Brown, instrumental against Boise State on Tuesday, tried to bring UNM back with a 3-pointer and three free throws, but free throws from guard Jacob Van and forward Hayden Graham helped ice the game for Air Force (14-14, 5-10 MW). UNM missed five of its last six field goals, while Air Force hit five of its last six.

UNM attempted to beat Air Force from the 3-point line when the Lobos took a season-high 37 shots from the arc. Their 11 made triples gave the Lobos a 29.7 percent clip. Brown made seven 3-pointers in his 32-point effort.

Air Force did its damage in the low post with 32 points in the paint, compared to UNM’s 20. Lobo forward Tim Williams picked up another double-digit game with 17 points, but his frontcourt mate, center Obij Aget, went scoreless. His only contribution on the stat sheet came in the form of four rebounds.

After Brown and Williams, guard Cullen Neal scored 12 points. Only three other Lobos scored: guard/forward Sam Logwood with five, guard Tim Jacobs with three and Mathis with three. UNM finished 41.1 percent from the field (23 of 56). Jacobs’ and Mathis’ points were the only ones from UNM’s bench.

UNM had a 31-29 advantage at the halftime break.

Air Force had two players with at least 20 points, Van with 22 and Graham with 21. All Graham’s points came in the second half. Guard Zach Kocur added 13 points as the Falcons went 48.2 percent on field goals (27 of 56).

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The Lobos will remain in Colorado through the weekend and will take on Colorado State in Fort Collins on Tuesday evening. It will be the only regular-season meeting between UNM and CSU.

J.R. Oppenheim is the assistant sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers men’s basketball and women’s soccer. Contact him at assistantsports@dailylobo.com.

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