ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Carlton Bragg got his second straight double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds and JaQuan Lyle scored 21 points to lead New Mexico to a 91-71 win over Grand Canyon on Tuesday night.
The Lobos (11-2) never trailed and finished with five players in double figures, Vance Jackson added a season-best 12, Vante Hendrix 12 and Zane Martin 11. J.J. Caldwell ran the New Mexico offense with nine assists and no turnovers.
Carlos Johnson scored 23 points to lead the Antelopes (4-9) and Alessandro Lever had 18, including a first-half stretch when he scored nine straight for Grand Canyon.
Although the Lobos were outscored in the paint, their usual strategy of working inside out still produced 32 points and helped open up other parts of the court. New Mexico’s big advantage turned out to be on 3-pointers, where the Lobos outscored Grand Canyon 42-6, while making a season-best 12.
“A lot of guys made shots,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said. “It’s the first time that’s really happened for us. It’s not something we go into the game trying to do. But I think they we were so consumed without our post play with JaQuan or Carlton or whoever was in there that they gave us the outside shots and thankfully we knocked them down.”
Grand Canyon trailed 37-31 at halftime, but the Lobos opened the second half with a 14-4 run and the lead never fell into single digits thereafter.
“I told them I thought the game would open up and it did at the beginning part of the second half,” Weir said. “Then they really just, they basically baited us to shoot 3s and it’s not something I really like to do but we were making them.”
New Mexico turned up the pressure in the second half, as well and that made a big difference, Grand Canyon coach Dan Majerle said.
“We wilted under the press,” he said. “We made some bad decisions. We weren’t strong with the ball. On defense, we didn’t get back and then they started getting hot from 3 and we didn’t adjust.”
Having lost four of five and now playing without injured guard J.J. Rhymes, the Antelopes needed some good news and they got it with the debut of St. John’s transfer guard Mikey Dixon, who finished with 10. However, forward Oscar Frayer still has not played this season because of academic issues.
The Lobos also had a player make a debut as Hendrix, a Utah transfer, saw his first playing time, scoring all his points from behind the arc.
“What he showed tonight was well behind my wildest expectations,” Weir said. “I don’t know what his expectations were but he had a little bit of a bigger impact than I anticipated. I’m happy for him.”
“We did a very poor job defensively of stopping them,” Majerle said. “They shot 55% and scored 91 points. You ain’t going to beat anybody doing that.
The Antelopes are home Dec. 21 against Eastern Illinois before a two-week break preceding the start of Western Athletic Conference play in January.
The Lobos continue a four-game, non-conference homestand before the resumption of Mountain West play Jan. 1.