The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team defeated the visiting San Diego State Aztecs 64-59 on Senior Night at Wise Pies Arena, aka the Pit.
Elijah Brown scored a game-high 29 points on 6-19 shooting from the floor while making an impressive 15 of 17 attempts from the free throw line. Seniors Tim Williams and Obij Aget each added 10 points in their final game before the home crowd.
It was also the first time since 2005 that UNM swept the season series from San Diego State.
“I am really proud of their effort and how hard they played tonight,” said UNM head coach Craig Neal to reporters after the game. “I just wanted to make it the best performance they had at home. We had great fans tonight, and that brought a lot of energy for us.
“I think there’s something about senior games. We came out with a win, and we needed it.”
Indeed the Lobos needed the win, as a victory over SDSU secured the 5th seed in the Mountain West Conference tournament in Las Vegas later in the week, ensuring that the Lobos would not play in the play-in round of the tournament on Wednesday.
It wasn’t a pretty win for the Lobos, who shot just 29% from the floor in the first half while managing to enter halftime without a made three-point basket. Not known as a great three-point shooting team, the Lobos finished the game with only three made three-point shots as a team on 12 attempts.
Neither team shot particularly well, with a majority of their combined points coming from the free-throw line.
“I didn’t think we had bad shots, but we were a little anxious, and San Diego State was a little anxious. We had opportunities, but we just couldn’t get it to go in,” said Neal on UNM’s poor shooting.
Sophomore forward Zylan Cheatham led the Aztecs in scoring with 13 points in limited action off the bench, while no San Diego State starters finished in double figures. Not exactly the type of performance Lobo fans are accustomed to seeing from a perennial contending Aztec program over the past decade.
UNM will take on Fresno State at 3:30 in the quarterfinal game of the MWC tournament from Las Vegas. The two teams split the season series, with both schools winning on their home court.