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Zoe Malen/The Nevada Sagebrush

The Nevada Wolf Pack Men’s basketball team lost 83-82 in devastating fashion to the New Mexico Lobos at home on Feb. 13. The loss dropped Nevada to seventh place in the Mountain West, with an overall record of 19-6 and a conference record of 6-5.

New Mexico swept Nevada in a season for the first time since the 2015-2016 season, which ended a six-game home win streak vs the Lobos.

The Wolf Pack got off to a solid start offensively as they went up 11-7 after a made jumper from Kenan Blackshear, Nevada guard, with 16:04 remaining.

Nevada’s four-point lead quickly faded as Donavan Dent, New Mexico guard, scored or assisted on eight points. He worked the Wolf Pack defense over a 16-3 run that saw the Pack trail 23-14 midway through the first half.

Down by nine, a three-pointer from Hunter McIntosh, Nevada guard, sparked life into a struggling offense. McIntosh assisted on a layup from  K.J. Hymes, Nevada forward, and drained a second three-pointer to bring the Wolf Pack within five with 7:58 left in the half.

Both offenses exchanged scores before Jaelen House, New Mexico guard, went on a 4-0 run of his own. He scored a jumper and assisted on a layup to place Nevada in a 40-29 hole in the final 3:17 of the half.

A made layup from Nick Davidson, Nevada forward, and four late points created by Jarod Lucas, Nevada guard, cut the deficit to 42-35. However, Mustapha Amzil, a New Mexico forward, splashed a wide-open three to put the game at 45-35 going into the break. 

Nevada immediately went to work in the second half as Tré Coleman, Nevada forward, hit a jumper ten seconds out of the gate to bring the Pack within eight.

The play brought momentum to the Wolf Pack’s side as they built a 15-7 run, capped off by a Davidson dunk, that posterized JT Toppin, a New Mexico forward. The score saw Nevada tie the game 52-52 with 14:48 remaining.

The Wolf Pack’s fire quickly faded, as the Lobos capitalized off Nevada’s poor defensive rebounding, which resulted in multiple second-chance scoring opportunities. Three Pack turnovers, notably a play that saw Blackshear pass the ball straight to the Lobos’ Dent, also aided the Lobos push.  New Mexico rode a 10-0 run to a 62-52 advantage with 11:51 to go.

In a mirrored image from the first half, McIntosh capitalized on a made three and assisted on two scores by Hymes to help pull the Pack back in the game. Nevada was down by four at 66-62 in the final eight minutes. 

The Lobos responded with a 5-0 run, only for the Wolf Pack to respond with a 9-0 run directly after, highlighted by a Lucas three-pointer and two successful free throws from Blackshear. After the pair of runs, the game was tied at 71 with 4:43 remaining on the clock.

A foul on the Wolf Pack’s Davidson allowed Nevada to take a 73-71 advantage after two made free throws, just for Amzil to sink a three to give New Mexico a one-point lead with just under four minutes to play.

New Mexico fouled Nevada’s Blackshear, sending him to the line with the chance to tie or take the lead. He missed both free throws, but a missed layup from the Lobos allowed Davidson to take the ball down the other end of the court for a layup. The Wolf Pack regained the lead 75-74 as 3:06 remained in the game.

New Mexico tied the game at 77 following a made jumper from House. House subsequently fouled Lucas from the three-point line on the ensuing play, which allowed Lucas to give the Wolf Pack their largest lead since the first half at 80-77, with less than two minutes left.

The Lobos struggled to find a shot on their next possession. House missed from three-point range. but an offensive rebound allowed New Mexico a second chance. Jamal Mashbrun Jr., New Mexico guard, answered the call and nailed a contested three-pointer to tie the game at 80 with the clock at 1:13.

Blackshear led Nevada’s ensuing possession but struggled to find space and missed a jumper. Davidson eventually hit a layup to put the Wolf Pack up 82-80 with 30 seconds left.

With less than 30 seconds, New Mexico had to move quickly, so much so that Mashburn Jr. was able to find an uncontested three-pointer in the corner to give the Lobos an 83-82 with 20 seconds left to play.

Following a timeout, the Wolf Pack had one last chance to take the lead and win the game. The ball was placed in the hands of Blackshear, who was one-on-one with a singular New Mexico defender. With the seconds ticking down, Blackshear, not being allowed to cut into the paint, attempted a mid-range jumper that nearly went in as the clock hit triple zeros. Nevada, despite their efforts to come back, came up short in an 83-82 loss.

“I thought Kenan worked hard to get something.It was a good shot, not a great shot, but he’s made plays like that before.” Steve Alford, head coach of the Nevada men’s basketball team, said in a press conference after the loss. “It’s more the two three-pointers Mashburn hit, the first was contested, but the second was open, it’s something we guard all the time.”

Nevada’s offensive trio of Blackshear, Davidson, and Lucas tallied 55 points on 46 percent shooting. However, their efforts were not enough, as New Mexico shot a collective 50 percent in the game, which included 47 percent from three and added 22 points from the bench to the Pack’s 11.

“We had a breakdown defensively,” Alford said. “They had six more shots, and when we give up 13 offensive rebounds it makes it hard on us. We shoot 50 percent at home, have 21 assists, and seven turnovers but got beat 17-5 on second-chance shots, that’s the game.”

The Wolf Pack’s next challenge will come on the road, as they take on their in-state rival the UNLV Rebels (13-9, 6-4 MWC) on Feb. 17 at 8:30 p.m.

James Wolfgang Perez can be reached via email or via Twitter @JamesWPerezUNR

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