On Thursday 45 minutes, and Saturday another 30 minutes, New Mexico hit the road toe-to-toe with Fresno State.
But the team that showed no margin for error this season succumbed to tired legs or tired thoughts along the way. in the final 3:16 to get a home win of 65-55 at the Save Mart Center.
“We should just be done at this point, man,” said UNM Lobos coach Paul Weir. “I told the guys after the game that we are finishing this season. And we have to get to work. And we have to fight. And we must do everything we can. I don’t want to dwell on all the things we can think about. We just have to get ready for the next game and keep pushing and plowing through this thing as best we can. “
Saturday’s loss drops the Lobos to 5-11 overall and 1-11 in Mountain West Conference play, only at the bottom of the 11 team standings with a few games in Lubbock, Texas, against perennial power San Diego State next Wednesday and Friday .
Fresno State (7-6, 5-6 MWC) defeated the Lobos 18-4 on the free-throw line on Saturday, including 17 of 19 in the second half as the Lobos’ fatigue began to show at the defensive end, often with a late range or poor positioning, and mental errors.
After losing to the buzzer of Thursday’s extension game against the Bulldogs, the Lobos didn’t lack a fight on Saturday.
A lay-up by Javonte Johnson with 9:34 to play pulled the Lobos to 45-44.
From then on, UNM hit just four of the last 19 shots from the field, hit no shot in the last 2 minutes, and never seemed comfortable dealing with full-field pressure from Fresno State (FSU scored 17 points on 16 turnovers) .
That all-field pressure led to what Weir said led to a change in the starting lineup, with Jeremiah Francis and Saquan Singleton entering together to start a pair of point guards. They combined for nine turnovers and just two assists, while the guard removed from the starting lineup, sophomore Kurt Wegscheider, had arguably his best game as Lobo with 10 points, including 2-of-3 3-pointers, eight rebounds and four steals in 24 minutes.
“I don’t think we put things together to get out of the press like we should,” Wegscheider said. “This is on the players because the coach always tells you to be ready. “
Earlier in the day, freshman point guard Nolan Dorsey announced he would be moving on and freshman former starter Isaiah Marin was ill and stayed in Albuquerque for this trip. So while Wegscheider’s rise was a welcome sign, the inability of UNM technical staff to know what to expect from him is an ongoing issue.
“We just have to continue as a team to find that leadership position that we so desperately need,” Weir said. And don’t end up with a game of 16 turns and nine coming from your point guards. We just have to get through a match where we get a more consistent point guard game. “
Makuach Maluach (11), Francis and Wegscheduler (10 each) were the three Lobos to score double digits. The Lobos also surpassed Fresno State 40-30 and, while having an offensive rebounding edge of 19-5, the Lobos only parlayed that in a 12-6 lead in second-chance points.
FSU got a game-high 16 points from Junior Ballard, who hit four 3-pointers. Orlando Robinson, the star’s sophomore center, who had not been held to single-digit scores all season before playing UNM, scored just six points before coming out two days after a four-point performance.
BROWN OFF: Starting forward Rod Brown injured his left foot in the middle of the second half and was on crutches on the team’s bench at the end of the game. Weir said it would require X-rays or a possible MRI.
NEXT ONE: San Diego State vs. UNM (in Lubbock, Texas), Wednesday, 9:00 PM, FS1, 770 AM / 96.3 FM
BOX SCORE: Fresno State 65, New Mexico 55
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