Mathis Scores 17 in Second Half, Lobos Beat Falcons 65-58
New Mexico improves to 1-0 in conference, Air Force falls to 0-1
New Mexico held off a late Air Force rally
Anthony Mathis scored all 17 of his points in the second half and New Mexico (7-6, 1-0 Mountain West) held typically hot-shooting Air Force (5-8, 0-1 Mountain West) to a 38.1% field goal percentage en route to a 65-58 win. The Falcons are currently first in field goal percentage in the Mountain West, despite the poor shooting on Wednesday night.
Early in the game at Clune Arena, it was a back and forth affair but the Lobos took the lead for good with 8:53 to go in the first half.
But it never looked like it was going to be a blow out. Air Force showed plenty of perseverance through the rest of the game, even threatening to take the lead despite trailing by as many as 13 midway through the second half.
And while New Mexico’s new zone look was effective based on Air Force’s overall field goal percentage of 38.1% and three-point field goal percentage of 13.3%, there were lots of open looks and missed opportunities for the Falcons.
For much of the game, Lavelle Scottie was left wide open – or at least minimally challenged – around the elbow of the paint and just several feet from the basket. Many of these shots accounted for his 27 field goal attempts.
Eventually, though, the shots started falling for Air Force, which pulled within 59-56 on a Lavelle Scottie layup with just 1:42 remaining. It would remain a three-point game until Scottie missed another short jumper – this time well defended – after an offensive rebound.
The missed jumper forced Air Force to foul 91.9% free throw shooter Anthony Mathis, who sunk both free throws and promptly stole the ball from Sid Tomes. Two more made free throws from Mathis would effectively close out the contest.
New Mexico returns to Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit on Saturday with hopes to quell Nevada’s dream of an undefeated regular season.
Air Force will challenge current MWC second place favorite Utah State at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, also on Saturday.