No. 19 New Mexico matched its best start since 1973-74, becoming the nation’s first team to 12 wins, with a 66-61 victory over visiting Creighton on Saturday night at The Pit. The game was part of the inaugural Mountain West/Missouri Valley Conference Challenge, currently being led by The Valley 4-3 with two games to play at MVC venues next week.
Creighton dropped to 4-6 on the season, while the Lobos won their 17th straight home game to improve to 12-0.
Despite playing at one of the nation’s most hostile environments, Creighton showed no fear in the opening minutes. The Jays made their first five field goal attempts and took an early 12-8 lead in the first four minutes.
Creighton would convert three different three-point plays while taking a 22-11 lead midway through the first half, holding the Lobos without a point for nearly six minutes during a 10-0 surge. The Jays would lead 25-12 to prompt a Steve Alford timeout.
Alford was forced to burn a second timeout with CU leading 31-15, its largest lead of the game. P’Allen Stinnett would drive and feed Kenny Lawson Jr. for a dunk, then drain a triple from the corner the next time down.
Creighton would weather a bevy of UNM free throws in the final five minutes of the half to take a 40-28 halftime lead over the hosts. The Lobos had just three field goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half.
Creighton shot 75 percent in the opening half (15-20) while holding the Lobos to just 20.6 percent marksmanship (7-34) in the opening 20 stanza.
The Lobos, as expected, came out howling in the second half. A three-point play by Dairese Gary and score by Darington Hobson quickly cut into the CU lead. The Jays would go more than 10 minutes without a field goal as it watched New Mexico take its first lead of the night at 45-44 on a hoop by Roman Martinez.
The game remained a dogfight, tied at 57 in the final three minutes, before Hobson continued his brilliant second half with a drive in traffic. The Jays had a chance with just over a minute left, only to turn it over. Hobson would miss two foul shots, but Martinez grabbed the offensive board and fed Hobson for a dunk. Justin Carter would miss a three-pointer on CU’s next trip down and Phillip McDonald would hit two free throws with 40.7 seconds left to give the Lobos their largest lead of the night.
On CU’s ensuing offensive trip Stinnett would be fouled on a three-point try. Stinnett made two of those three to get CU within 63-59 with 30.2 left. With 26.8 left, Dairese Gary would make the second of two at the line. Stinnett would answer with a lay-up to make it a three-point game, but Gary drained two more foul shots with 15.7 left as UNM went up 66-61. Creighton would miss its next shot and the Lobos dribbled off the clock as time expired.
Hobson, a childhood friend of Stinnett in Las Vegas, had 22 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, doing everything but hitting free throws (2-8). Martinez went just 3-for-12 from the field but had 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Gary also had a dozen points. The Lobos shot 29.9 percent from the floor for the game, but owned a 44-40 edge on the glass and had just five turnovers.
Creighton was led by 14 points from Stinnett, while Ashford (13) and Lawson Jr. (12) also cracked double-figures. The Jays, who made 15-of-21 from the floor in the first half, shot just 5-24 (20.8%) after the break, including 1-for-15 from three-point range. Creighton had 18 turnovers for the contest, which the Lobos turned into 15 points.
Creighton returns home on Tuesday for a 7:05 pm game against Houston Baptist. Story courtesy of Creighton Athletics.