Lobos fall to Utah Valley in NIT

The UNM Men’s Basketball team fell to Utah Valley 83-69 in the opening round of the NIT Wednesday night at the Pit.

The Lobos, who finished the season 22-12 shot just 40.6% from the field (20-69) and just 3-14 from 3-point range.

You can’t win that way, especially on nights like tonight when the ball isn’t going in,” Lobos head coach Richard Pitino said.

Utah Valley (26-8) shot 47.2% from the field (34-72) and were 7-18 from 3-point range (38.9%).

“You sit back and reflect on what we are building. We did some amazing things this year. Be proud of it, but we have to become a better team,” Pitino said. It was a fun a season. We have a lot to be proud of and to build upon.”

Morris Udeze, in his final collegiate game, posted his 15th double-double of the season with 18 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. He moved into 7th place on the Lobos’ single-season rebounding list with 326 boards.

The 19 rebounds are a Lobo record for an NIT game, surpassing Luc Longley’s 18-rebound game vs. Saint Louis in the 1990 semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

Jaelen House had 14 points and five assists and four steals, while Josiah Allick added 9 points and eight boards. House’s four steals gave him 86 for the season, setting a new UNM single-season record, breaking the previous mark of 84 by Hunter Greene in the 1986-87 season.

Allick reached the 1,000 career-point milestone, the fourth Lobo to accomplish the feat this season.

The Lobos led 12-11 with 12:26 to play in the first half, but Utah Valley led 46-33 at the half, and by as many as 22 points in the second half to grab the win.

“Obviously a bad ending to a really good season,” Lobos head coach Richard Pitino said. “I talked to the team that you have to take the emotion out of it. Even though we didn’t play well and they played terrific, we have to understand what our weaknesses are and I would say it is certainly defense; individually, collectively and coaching, all of it has to be better.”

While the Lobos look to get better in 2023-24, the team gave the fans plenty to cheer about this season.