On Tuesday, Feb. 14, the Lobos lost to the University of Wyoming Cowboys 70-56. The Lobos are on a four-game losing streak and were without Jaelen House for the second game in a row due to injury; Donovan Dent started in his place. The Lobos are now 6-7 in conference play and fell to sixth place.
With another loss, the Lobos will need to win the rest of their games to be invited to March Madness. Winning the Mountain West conference tournament would also secure a spot in the NCAA tournament, though.
The Lobos lost the rebound battle 39-32 which led to 16 second-chance points for the Cowboys. UNM made just 21 of their 57 shots.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. led the team in scoring with 15 points. Morris Udeze had a double-double with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Javonté Johnson had a nice game with 10 points, making two of his three 3-pointers.
The Cowboys had four players in double-digit scoring: Hunter Maldonado led the Cowboys in scoring with 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Hunter Thompson scored 12 points which all came from the 3-point line.
The Lobos had a slow start to the game. Mashburn scored the first points of the game with a mid-range jump shot, but Thompson responded with a 3-pointer. This led to a 6-0 run for the Cowboys. UNM was down 9-2 with 15:53 left in the first half.
Out of the timeout, the Lobos slowly reset their offense. Mashburn made the Lobos’ second basket of the game with a mid-range jump shot, and Josiah Allick followed it up by tipping the ball in off a miss. Allick was fouled on a layup which led to a media timeout with 10:25 left in the half. The Lobos were down 14-8.
Mashburn made a 3-pointer and Dent tied the game with a layup on a fastbreak. Dent then took the lead with a floater, and Udeze kept the Lobos run alive with a block at the rim.
The 10-0 Lobo run was ended when Jeremiah Oden scored a 3-pointer. UNM was having trouble protecting the 3-point line with Thompson making his third and fourth 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions. Udeze had a dunk to end the Cowboys run. The Lobos were down 28-19 with 3:50 left in the half.
Johnson made a 3-pointer out of the timeout. KJ Jenkins stole the ball which led to another Johnson 3-pointer. The Lobos were down 32-25 to end the first half. The Lobos’ offense consistently went stagnant and the team had trouble getting the ball to Udeze and Allick in the post. On defense, the Lobos played well but failed to protect the 3-point line, with the Cowboys making 6 in the first half. The Lobos also needed to drive the lane and get to the free-throw line; they only shot three free throws in the first half.
Oden scored the first points of the half for the Cowboys, but Allick responded by driving the lane for a layup. Xavier DuSell made three consecutive 3-pointers to put the Cowboys up 45-29 with 16:38 left in the game.
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Maldonado was fouled on a fastbreak and he made both free throws. Mashburn made another jump shot, but the Lobos were called for a foul on defense which led to a media timeout. The Lobos were down 49-34 with 11:27 left in the game.
Allick made his first 3-pointer of the game and Udeze followed it up with a second-chance layup. Mashburn hit another jump shot, but the Lobos kept fouling on defense which led to made free throws. Allick made his second 3-pointer to put the Lobos down 61-52 with 4:57 on the clock.
Oden had a dunk to protect the Cowboy lead and Maldonado stole the ball to seal the game for Wyoming. The Lobos lost 70-56.
After the game, Richard Pitino said the team has lost its confidence and has lost a spark with House's absence.
"Clearly, we've lost confidence. Certainly not having one of the best guards in the country is affecting our team: that's obvious,” Pitino said. “But I think guys are just feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders a little bit. They feel like they're letting people down and I'm trying to get them out of that rut … I thought they played hard. I thought they competed, but when you take Jaelen out of the lineup, you got to be as confident as possible, and we aren't there yet."
The Lobos next play against San José State University on Feb. 17. With a win, the Lobos will move back to the 5-seed in the conference and secure a tie breaker over the Spartans if both teams end the season with the same record.
Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thomasbulger10