The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team secured a hard-fought victory against the Air Force Falcons on Saturday, Feb. 26 at The Pit. The 69-65 final score was much closer than the Lobos’ 91-77 win at Air Force earlier in February.
Both teams struggled with fouls; UNM earned 20 fouls and Air Force got 21 by the time the final buzzer sounded.
The entire first half was neck and neck between the two teams with the largest lead being six points at the very end of the half when Air Force was up 30-24 against the Lobos.
Jaelen House, who put up an astounding 42 points in UNM’s first outing against the Falcons, finished the first half with zero points despite having played 17 of the first half’s 20 minutes. House’s less-than-stellar performance in the first half astutely summarized the entire team’s poor offensive performance. The most points in the first half came from Jamal Mashburn Jr. and Javonté Johnson, each with eight points.
The Lobos’ defense wasn’t too hot either with post players like Jay Allen-Tovar and Sebestian Forsling only getting a combined seven rebounds in the first half. Of course, there wasn’t much to defend against as Air Force’s highest-scoring player in the first half, Joseph Octave, only picked up 10 points.
House managed to show some signs of life in the second half, earning 16 points and two steals. Mashburn also stepped up his game, matching House’s 16 points.
Allen-Tovar made up for some defensive ground, but the Lobos’ success in the second half really came down to the offense stepping up and putting points on the board.
Air Force’s Carter Murphy picked up a personal foul with 14 seconds left in the game, giving Mashburn the chance to extend the Lobos lead to four points, bringing the score to 67-63. The Falcons fired back quickly, though, with a layup from Jake Heidbreder condensing the Lobos’ lead to two points, 67-65, and leaving eight seconds on the clock.
Air Force needed to foul in order to keep the clock from running out, which put House to the line. House made both free throws, and Air Force went on to miss a last-ditch three-pointer, ending the game 69-65.
The Lobos will be back at home for their Senior Night on Saturday, March 5 where they’ll face a strong opponent in the 9-6 University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
John Scott is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JScott050901