Brown helps New Mexico hold off Boise State’s late rally
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Elijah Brown scored 27 points, including 17 of New Mexico’s final 19 points, to send the Lobos to a 78-73 victory over Boise State on Tuesday night.
New Mexico (16-10, 9-5 Mountain West) gained control late in the first half on the strength of an 11-0 run when the Broncos were scoreless for nearly seven minutes.
With 19.6 seconds left in the game, Boise State pulled within 76-73 on James Reid’s 3-pointer, but Brown finished it off with two from the foul line, where he hit 13 of 14.
“They’re going to keep coming,” New Mexico coach Craig Neal said of the Broncos. “They’re a good team. You got to know they’re going to battle you to the end.”
Obij Ajet scored 14 points and added five blocks for New Mexico, and Damien Jefferson also had 14 points.
Chandler Hutchison finished with a career-high 31 points for the Broncos (16-8, 9-4), who never led in the game. Reid added 18.
“Chandler Hutchison was the man tonight,” Broncos coach Leon Rice.
For a team that already blew a 25-point, second-half lead at home this season, any time a big advantage starts to shrivel up, the New Mexico players and fans start to get a case of the shakes. But when the Lobos’ 17-point lead began to dribble away, Brown and Jordan Hunter were able to stem the bleeding. The two combined on a decisive 12-2 run after Boise State had closed within 57-53.
“He made some tough shots,” Rice said of Brown. “They were really, really tough shots. He’s a shot maker.”
And Hunter, who had nine points and five assists, has blossomed of late, Neal said.
“I think Jordan Hunter in the last two weeks, three weeks, is playing with a pace he’s never played with before,” Neal said. “I think he’s played with a higher motor. He’s played with a different energy level. He’s played with different confidence level.”
The Lobos’ win throws the conference into turmoil as Boise State, Colorado State and Nevada all have four losses atop the standings. New Mexico is a game back in the loss column, but has beaten the Broncos twice while losing both meetings with the Wolf Pack. Nevada has road games against both the Rams and Broncos coming up. Boise State, which came into the game with a 5-1 conference road record, has already beaten Colorado State twice.
“I just told them if they want it, they have to go get it,” Neal said. “I think they played with that hunger.”
Both teams missed four foul shots, but New Mexico made 22 while Boise State converted 13.
The Lobos had nine blocks shots.
“New Mexico looked like a team that had a week to prepare and they came out and played a really good defensive first half and kind of got us out of sync and altered enough shots at the rim and got us out rhythm,” Rice said.
New Mexico all-conference power forward Tim Williams missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury.
New Mexico plays at Fresno State on Saturday.
Boise State is home against Wyoming on Saturday.