Winners of four of their last five games entering Tuesday’s showdown with Boise State, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team appeared to be building confidence and poise as they enter the final stretch of Mountain West Conference play.
After blowing a 13-point lead to the Broncos and losing their cool in a post-game scuffle, the Lobos displayed anything but poise in front of a nearly sold out DreamStyle arena.
The Lobos looked to be in control for most of the game, leading by as much as 13 points and an eleven point advantage at the break. But UNM appeared to be rattled down the stretch as Boise State slowly chipped away at the lead.
The Broncos would score the final eight points of the game, highlighted by a Chandler Hutchison layup off of a turnover by UNM guard Anthony Mathis to give the Broncos a 72-71 lead, their first since the three-minute mark of the first period.
Antino Jackson missed what could have been a game-winning three-point attempt with 15 seconds left on the clock, but the shot hit iron, and the Broncos secured the victory on a defensive rebound by Justinian Jessup. The hard foul on Jessup by UNM forward Joe Furstinger fueled a scuffle between the benches for both teams cleared.
Suspensions are likely to come down for both teams from the MWC, adding insult to injury in what is easily the most frustrating and disappointing loss for first-year UNM head coach Paul Weir.
“I didn’t see everything that happened, but just completely unacceptable behavior,” Weir said after the game.“I am sick about it, as sick as I am about the game. That’s really not how a game like this should end. I don’t know where that behavior came from.”
As the Lobos and Broncos await their fate regarding suspensions for both players and coaches, the Lobos will need to refocus and prepared for the final six games of conference play, starting with a road matchup against Air Force on Saturday afternoon.
Although the Falcons are just 3-7 in conference play and 9-13 overall, they have the ability to upset a team like the Lobos if they are not focused and ready to play. The question is who will Weir have available to play in the game, and will the Lobos regain their poise that they lost on Tuesday night?