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Men's Basketball: Lobos split week with dueling game winners

The Lobo men's basketball team hosted the Colorado State Rams on Wednesday, Feb 21 and got a great 68-66 win thanks to some Donvon Dent (#2) heroics before a tough 78-77 loss on Sunday, Feb. 25 against the Air Force Academy Falcons.

The Lobos would go onto play against the Air Force Falcons on Saturday, Feb. 24 where they heartbreakingly lost by one point. It was a hard-fought loss in The Pit as both teams kept the score close the entire game, but the Lobos couldn’t bring it home by the end.

Head Coach Richard Pitino talked about just how important the Colorado State game was, not just for his team but for the Rams as well.

“We knew we had to have that game. Lot of respect for Colorado State; (Isaiah) Stevens (#4) is one of the best players in the league,” Pitino said, who followed up to say he couldn’t bear to walk out of The Pit with another loss.

The game started off with the Rams taking the tip off and Joel Scott (#1) taking the first basket. But the Lobos quickly took possession and the pace of the game, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

Dent was in good form after his ankle sprain, being able to make a drive early on that missed the basket initially, but was able to rebound and secure points. The  Rams had difficulty scoring around the rim due to JT Toppin (#15) and his persistent rebounding. The Lobos then went on to have a 13-point run that forced the Rams to call a timeout five minutes into the half.

Both teams were playing hard with great shots, rebounds and blocks all around. The Rams tied up the game 18-18 with a nice pass by Stevens (#4) and a layup from Jalen Lake (#15).

After receiving some nice passes for layups, Nelly Junior Joseph (#23) in the last few minutes of the half made a great pass of his own to House who made a difficult layup. The half ended once again in a low scoring tie at 30-30.

The second half started off evenly until the Rams missed a pass that the Lobos were able to take. That play went on to be led by Dent, who was fouled, and sent to the line for two free throws. The next play Scott was also fouled and evened out the score with his own two free throws.

After a Lobo run, Colorado State continued to still put up some numbers as Lake was able to have a couple of good three-pointers, but it wasn't enough to take over the lead. The Lobos were in the bonus going into the media timeout up 45-39.

Both teams went on three-point barrage with each team being able to match point for point. The last minute had everyone in The Pit on the edge of their seats as both sides went back and forth controlling the lead by one point at a time.

After a pair of free throws from Stevens put the Rams ahead with seven seconds in the game,  Dent made a final drive towards the basket, running past multiple defenders for a layup and was fouled on the way. He made the and-1 free throw for the Lobos to win 68-66.

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Jamal Mashburn Jr. (#5) had a well rounded game with 16 total points, a season high six rebounds and three steals. Mashburn talked about that final minute of the game in the post game interview.

“While stressful, those moments are what we live for. It just brings us so much joy. They’re a great team, well coached, great players, so we knew they were going to make good plays, but we just had to make more plays, and that’s what we did,” Mashburn Jr. said.

Stevens played his own exceptional game for the Rams, finishing with 20 points, going 8-12 with three three-pointers and 10 rebounds. This gave the Rams the chance to come back and stay neck-and-neck in the score until the final minute.

Rytis Petraitis (#31) gave the Falcons the lead with a three-pointer with seven seconds left in the game. The Lobos drove down the court but were unable to steal another win. The Falcons took the fourth to last game of the regular season 78-77.

UNM had four players in double digit scoring but were led by Junior Joseph who nearly had a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds.

Along with the game winning shot, Petraitis scored 15 points but it was Beau Becker (#14) who led the Falcons in scoring with 19 points and six rebounds.

The Lobos will go on the road for their next game against Boise State on Saturday, March 2.

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @BillyJackDL

BillyJack Davidson

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL 

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