ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — JaQuan Lyle’s career-high tying 31 points and two missed Boise State 3-pointers in the final seconds gave New Mexico an 80-78 win Wednesday night in the opener of Mountain West play.
Carlton Bragg, who finished with 17 points, banked in a layup with 34 seconds left to put the Lobos ahead 79-78, then they had to survive wayward Broncos’ 3-point attempts from Alex Hobbs and Justinian Jessup to collect the victory.
“I thought Boise State came out with a ton of pop and a ton of energy,” New Mexico coach Paul Weir said. “But I felt fortunately over the course of it, our guys have a confidence about them. We’ve won some big games and I think eventually we just felt like we would win the game somehow, someway. I felt that way anyway.
Jessup finished with 24 points for Boise State (4-3, 0-1) and Derrick Alston had 20, including 15 in the second half.
Lyle added six assists and two steals.
“Every time I step on the court, whoever is front me I don’t think they can guard me,” “Lyle said.
The Broncos quickly showed it was going to fire from long range, getting out to an 8-0 lead behind two 3-pointers. Boise State finished with seven 3s in the first half and 14 total.
“We went into the game worried about their 3-point shooting,” Weir said. “But they just have not shot the ball very well at all.”
And an 8-2 Lobos run that was all Lyle gave New Mexico its first lead at 35-34 with 2:38 before halftime. He started his personal streak with a fall-to-the-ground-while-holding-the-dribble play, before backing up two feet behind the line and lofting a contested 3-pointer as the shot clock ticked off.
With three seconds left, Hobbs took a contested baseline 3-pointer and after New Mexico hit one of two free throws, Jessup had a last chance at the buzzer from the bend, but two Lobos were all over him and the shot glanced off the backboard and away.
“When you’re down to 0.9 seconds, you don’t have a lot of options,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said. “You’re kind of in trouble at that point unless the defense really, really screws up. You want to get (Jessup) the shot because he’s the best one and they did a nice job of doubling him.”
Boise State: The Broncos came into the game having won three straight games, but they are used to struggling in Albuquerque, losing for the seventh time in nine games. Boise State will try to regroup in the back end of the conference opening weekend before returning to non-conference play, which includes a meeting Dec. 22 against Georgia Tech in the opener of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
New Mexico: The Lobos have now won nine consecutive conference openers. New Mexico closes the month with four straight home nonconference games, including a rematch against downstate rival New Mexico State, which the Lobos beat by a point last month in Las Cruces, N.M.
INTERESTING STAT: Jessup hit six 3-pointers after making 14 in his previous six games.
“Jessup is obviously a key component for them,” Weir said. “But his numbers were so bad coming in, you’re kind of guarding him like what he can do potentially but you’re also looking at the numbers and when he got going, he got going. We tried to stop him. I thought we were much more attentive as the game went on.”
AND ANOTHER STAT: New Mexico entered the game leading the country in foul shots attempted (25.4 per game) and made (18.1 per game), a 72.1% success rate. The Lobos finished 19-25, while Boise State was 10-14. Neither coach was particularly satisfied with the numbers.
“There’s not much more you can do,” Rice said. “When you’re in front of the guy with two feet on the ground and he runs into you, there’s a lot of contact. And I guess some of them were fouls and apparently all of them were.”
But Weir said, “I thought they really let us play (Wednesday) which was advantage Boise. We need those foul calls around the rim and we didn’t get a ton of them. But I thought down the stretch we finally got a whistle. We finally got to the free throw line and it helped balance everything out for us.”
Boise State: The Broncos are at home Saturday against Colorado State.
New Mexico: The Lobos are at Wyoming on Saturday.
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