Lobos edge past Wolf Pack for 83-82 win

Feb. 14—Jamal Mashburn Jr. had been in a bit of a shooting slump heading into Tuesday night's game at Nevada.

So much for that.

The University of New Mexico senior nailed two critical 3-pointers in the waning moments to help the Lobos rally past Nevada 83-82 at the Lawlor Events Center.

Mashburn's 3-pointer over a taller Keenan Blackshear with 1:12 left tied the game at 80, then Mash's 3-ball from the corner in front of his own bench with 22 seconds remaining proved to be the difference. His 17 points were a team-high, leading five Lobos in double figures.

"Big shots, big shots," said UNM teammate Jermarl Baker Jr. "He always stays confident and that's what you need at the end of games, for sure."

Mashburn missed 12 of his 15 shot attempts in the Lobos' previous game, a home loss to UNLV. He was just 13-for-40 from the field in the three games before Tuesday.

He was 4-for-7 shooting against the Wolf Pack, including makes on all three of his 3-point attempts.

"I'm proud of Mash, people were beating him up pretty hard and he beats himself up, certainly after the last game," said Lobos coach Richard Pitino.

UNM's win keeps it in the Mountain West Conference race heading into Friday's visit to San Diego State. What's more, it gives the Lobos a season sweep of Nevada following a 34-point blowout of the Wolf Pack in The Pit last month.

Nevada's inability to slow down New Mexico's offense in the first half was a big reason the Lobos carried a 45-35 lead into the break. Despite two fouls apiece for guards Donovan Dent and Mashburn, they managed to push the pace and keep constant pressure on Nevada at both ends.

Dent sat for the final five-plus minutes of the half after getting his second foul with the Lobos up 34-22. He and Mashburn logged just 11 minutes in the half, opening the door for others like Baker and Nelly Junior Joseph to create some offense. Baker hit a pair of 3-pointers while Joseph nearly had a double-double by the break, finishing with 10 rebounds and 11 points.

Nevada rallied to tie it 52 but it sparked a 10-0 run by the Lobos as Dent and J.T. Toppin scored four points apiece. One of Dent's buckets was a fastbreak dunk following a steal by Tru Washington at the other end.

The run also happened with Mashburn on the bench. He'd picked up his third foul early in the second half and remained on the bench until the 11-minute mark.

The Lobos were up 71-62 after a Mustapha Amzil 3-pointer, but Nevada stormed back to take the lead to set up a dramatic finish. The teams exchanged one huge bucket after another. Despite mounting foul troubles from Toppin and Jaelen House, the Lobos hung in with a big game from Baker.

After seeing his minutes decline significantly as the season dragged on, Baker got 23 minutes in Tuesday's game. He was on the floor at the end of regulation, guarding Blackshear as Nevada's guard attempted what would have been a game-winning bucket in the closing seconds.

Baker said he and Dent had prepared to guard Blackshear all week.

"I was confident to go in there and get a stop," Baker said.

Blackshear and Pack guard Jarod Lucas combined for 36 points, making this the first loss of the season where the two had gone for over 30.


MWC race: San Diego State erased a 14-point halftime deficit against visiting Colorado State, outscoring the Rams 41-11 in the second half to win easily, 71-55. The Aztecs (19-6, 8-4) and Lobos remain tied for second place in the standings, a half-game back of idle Utah State (20-4, 8-3).

The Aggies visit Wyoming (12-11, 5-5) on Wednesday and head to Colorado State (19-6, 7-5) on Saturday.

The Lobos visit San Diego State on Friday night in Viejas Arena. The Aztecs and Colorado State are the only Mountain West teams to remain undefeated at home in conference play.

Not this time: House didn't pick up his first foul until the 18:26 mark of the second half, a change from several games this season where he's been plagued by foul troubles early on. It allowed him to play 17 minutes in the first half and remain on the floor when Dent and Mashburn had to sit.

Nevada had just three fouls called against it in the first half. The Pack picked up three fouls before the first media timeout in the second half.

Double vision: The Lobos have built double-digit leads in each of their last four road games. The previous three were wins at Air Force, Wyoming and San Jose State.

The Lobos' last win in Reno came March 5, 2016, with a 71-66 decision when Craig Neal was still UNM's coach. Tuesday's win snapped a six-game skid against the Pack in the Lawlor Events Center.

The win was their fourth on the Mountain West road this season, their most in a single season since the 2017-18 season.