Lobos lose heartbreaker to Nevada Wolf Pack

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s always a tale of wolves and possessions when the Lobos and the Nevada Wolf Pack meet up. It comes down to who has final possession and, lately, the Wolf Pack has capitalized on that the most.

The Lobos suffered a tough 76-77 loss to Nevada at the buzzer. Kenan Blackshear’s shaky midrange shot teetered into the hoop and silenced the loud, 15,004 people in cherry-red in The Pit.

While this game felt similar to the previous double-overtime game in Reno, there were no overtimes Tuesday night. However, there were 16 lead changes during this game.

This is just the Lobos’ second loss at The Pit this year, next to the UNLV game.

Blackshear’s game-winning shot came seconds after Jamal Mashburn Jr. hit a midrange dagger. Mashburn’s bucket put the Lobos up 76-75 with 18 seconds left in the game. 

Tuesday night’s game at The Pit also meant a reunion for former Lobo coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal. They received a very warm welcome back to the arena.

While Nevada (19-6,9-3) swept the Lobos (19-5, 6-5) in this two-game series, UNM showed improvement since their last meetup in Reno.

“Although it was a heartbreaker, we did a lot of good things. We’ll do our best to learn from it and move on to tomorrow,” Coach Richard Pitino said.

The Lobos showed some defensive improvement Tuesday night. Nevada’s Will Baker and Kenan Blackshear were held to just 10 and 12 points, respectively.

In the last meetup in Reno, Baker led the team with 28 points with Blackshear adding 20.

However, Jarod Lucas was someone the Lobos struggled to shut down. Lucas scored 28 points and shot 6-of-9 from the three.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. led the Lobos with 21 points.

Jaelen House was not far behind with a spread-out stat sheet of 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists. House was a force for UNM, helping surge some momentum with quick drives to the basket.

KJ Jenkins also contributed to some big moments for the Lobos. He knocked down a few big threes, adding 11 points to the board and shooting 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Some big keys to this game were centered around three things. One, the Lobos at the free-throw line, Two, Nevada’s bench – and three, Lucas’ efficient shooting.

“We did a better job getting to the free throw line tonight but there were a lot of loose ball opportunities that we didn’t come away with,” Josiah Allick said.

UNM shot 24-of-28 from the foul line, versus Nevada’s 8-of-10. However, that wasn’t enough to lengthen a lead in the game.

The Wolf Pack slightly outscored the Lobos off their bench too. Nevada notched 17 bench points against UNM’s 11.

“Coach touched on it a lot before the game, and at halftime, and in the timeouts, it’s like we’ve kind of just gotten away from our toughness,” Josiah Allick said.

Freshman Donovan Dent, who averages about 5.5 points per game off the bench, didn’t add any points to the board tonight – something that’s very uncommon for the frosh.

UNM lost but Nevada coach Steve Alford, no stranger to The Pit as a former UNM coach, grabbed a win in what he says is a special environment.

“This is my 100th game at The Pit, and I’m very blessed that I’ve been able to coach 100 games in a building like this, it’s very special,” Coach Alford said.

The Lobos face head to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force (12-13, 3-9) this Friday. Tipoff is 7 p.m. MT.