UNM’s regular season title hopes were on life support before the Lobos hosted the CSU Rams on Tuesday night at Wise Pies Arena, AKA the Pit.
Those title hopes are officially dead with a disappointing 68-56 loss in which the Lobos trailed from start to finish.
Senior guard Gian Clavell led all scorers with 24 points on 9-21 shooting from the floor and 4-8 from behind the arc, while forward Emmanuel Omogbo added 17 points and 14 rebounds.
It was somewhat of a revenge game for the Rams and Omogbo, as the Lobos beat CSU earlier in the year with Omogbo making national news for a post-game confrontation with UNM assistant coaches.
Once again Elijah Brown led all Lobos with 20 points on 8-18 shooting and 4-7 from downtown, but the Lobos continued their recent string of failing to reach the foul line. The Lobos shot only 12 free throws in the game, making a pedestrian seven compared to 12 for the Rams.
“We just had a hard time scoring the ball. When we don’t do that, we don’t play with the pace that we’re capable of,” said UNM head coach Craig Neal. “We’re going to keep working and keep going back to the drawing board, but that was a perfect example of us not being able to score and get to the line.”
The Lobos entered the game as one of the most efficient teams in the country in making it to the free throw line but managed only seven points from the charity stripe.
With Tim Williams out indefinitely with a broken foot and only one pure scorer in Brown, the Lobos simply cannot hang with a veteran team like Colorado State unless they own a significant free-throw advantage.
The win was the first for CSU in the Pit since 2007 and the first victory in Albuquerque for head coach Larry Eustachy.
With the loss, the Lobos fall to 9-7 in Mountain West Conference play, only a half-game ahead of sixth-place Fresno State.
The Lobos head to Laramie to take on the Cowboys before finishing out the season with a home game against San Diego State on March 4th.