Lobos' upset bid falls short at Fresno State - Albuquerque Journal

Lobos’ upset bid falls short at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. — One star’s 3-pointer fell. The other star’s 3-pointer, by no more than an inch, did not.

While the ebbs and flows of the other 39 minutes of Monday night’s game in the Save Mart Center provided plenty of fodder for other storylines, the final minute pretty much told the story of a Lobo season.

Fresno State 7-footer Orlando Robinson’s 3-pointer with 52 seconds remaining capped an epic star vs. star second-half battle with UNM sophomore guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. as the Bulldogs won on their home court, 71-68, to complete a competitive season sweep of the Lobos.

“I can’t complain with this effort,” Lobos coach Richard Pitino said after the game. “I thought, overall, we played a terrific game. They just made one or two more plays down the stretch than we did.”

Robinson’s 3-pointer gave him 28 points on the night to go along with 10 rebounds, and the expected future NBA player scored 12 of his team’s final 17 points.

Mashburn, after starting 0-for-8 from the floor but never wavering in confidence, finished with 27 points and scored 16 of UNM’s final 24 points, putting the Lobos in position for a road upset. UNM was a 10-point underdog.

And with 4.2 seconds remaining, with the Lobos inbounding the ball near their own bench, Pitino went to his sophomore star with the hot hand for the last play.

A pass in to center Sebastian Forsling from Mashburn quickly found its way back into the shooting guard’s hands. Mashburn fired up a 3-pointer, hitting the back rim and missing.

“I shoot the same shot with confidence every time,” said Mashburn. “It’s just one of those ones that didn’t fall. I’ll take them the same (way) the next time.”

For Fresno State (18-10, 8-7 Mountain West), the win means the Bulldogs still have a slight chance at a top-five seed in next week’s Mountain West Tournament — a coveted spot because the top five seeds receive byes into the second-day quarterfinals round.

For the Lobos (12-18, 4-12 MWC), the loss locks them into the No. 9 seed and ends a furious six games in a 13 day stretch to end an up-and-down February.

The Lobos’ offensive struggles of the past week-plus continued early in Fresno. UNM opened the game hitting just 4 of its first 18 shots (22.2%) over the first 10 minutes of the game. The Bulldogs held a 21-10 lead and later in the half led by as many as 12.

But Mashburn and point guard Jaelen House (18 points, four assists, three steals) led a gritty charge back, driving right into the heart of a Fresno State defense that ranks in the top 10 nationally in fewest points allowed per game.

Fresno State led 42-31 after a 3-pointer to open the second half before the Lobos’ starting backcourt took over, scoring 33 of the team’s 37 second-half points.

But in the end, there was simply too much Robinson for a Lobos front court still trying to figure out how to play down three centers. And while Forsling held his own for much of the second half, Robinson was simply too good to overcome.

BOX SCORE: Fresno State 71, New Mexico 68

UP NEXT: Saturday — UNLV at New Mexico, 9 p.m., FS1, 770 AM/96.3 FM (Senior night)

READ MORE: For more analysis, notes, quotes, stats, video and more from Monday’s Lobo hoops game, read Emptying the Notebook.

Home » Sports » Lobos’ upset bid falls short at Fresno State


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