Brown's 14 FTs help New Mexico beat Fresno State 78-73 (Dec 28, 2016)
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Elijah Brown had 19 points off the bench, including all 14 of his free-throw attempts, to lead New Mexico to a 78-73 win over Fresno State in a Mountain West Conference opener on Wednesday night.
Tim Williams added 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor for the Lobos. Obij Aget had 12 points and Dane Kuiper chipped in 10. Brown made just 2 of 10 field goals.
Jahmel Taylor scored 17 points and Karachi Edo had 15 to lead Fresno State (8-5, 0-1).
New Mexico (8-5, 1-0) appeared to take control midway through the first half with a 16-6 run to go up 29-15. But Fresno State closed the half with a 13-1 surge to pull to 36-34 at the break.
''The first four minutes of the second half, we had some empty possessions where we had opportunities to score the ball and we didn't,'' said Fresno State coach Rodney Terry. ''Games on the road, you have to be able to take advantage of those situations.''
The Lobos clinched the game from the line, hitting 15 of 16 free throws over the final 5:31.
''I thought it was a really good indication of the fight that we have as a group, the effort they played with,'' New Mexico coach Craig Neal said. ''They had many times where they came back in the game and our guys stayed the course and did what we asked them to do, and were able to push it out and get a really good win.''
New Mexico: The big question for the Lobos would be how they responded to a 31-point beat-down at No. 18 Arizona last week as Neal continued to tinker with his starting lineup. The team at times still looked ragged offensively and disappeared for stretches defensively. On the whole, however, the effort was significantly better.
''So all in all, I'm really pleased, especially after the bad performance at Arizona,'' Neal said. ''We got beat by a really, really good team that kind of put it on us. So I was glad to get back on the floor, back home to play. I thought our guys showed a lot of fight, a lot of resiliency.''
Fresno State: The Bulldogs were coming off a 75-63 loss to No. 20 Oregon last week, and were dealing with some lineup changes. It took some time to get on the same page.
Since both teams are excepting to challenge for the regular-season conference title, it was important for the Lobos to hold serve at home.
New Mexico shot 29 of 33 (85 percent) from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs made 7 of 12 free throws (58 percent).
New Mexico travels to San Diego State on Sunday to meet one of the two conference pre-season favorites.
Fresno State is home Saturday against Nevada, which has found an offense to match its intense defense as the other pre-season Mountain West favorite.