Aztecs lose Mensah to a tantrum, then the game while Lobos dominates 76-67

SDSU Mountain West NCAA
Keshad Johnson dove early in New Mexico, but the Aztecs played from behind for most of the night in Saturday’s loss. Photo credit: @Aztec_MBB via Twitter

San Diego State fought back from a halftime deficit on Saturday but fell injured from the loss of their big man at Viejas Arena to New Mexico 76-67.

The loss gave the Aztecs (13-4, 4-1 Mountain West) their first setback in conference play and ended their six-game winning streak as Nevada now sits at the top of the MW with another win.

SDSU shooters were cold to open the game, hitting just 38% of their shots in the first half. They weren’t much better from the line, hitting just one of their seven free throw attempts.

The effort resulted in a 10-point deficit at the break as New Mexico (16-2, 3-2 MW), led by Jamal Mashburn Jr., who scored 15 points, built a 38-28 lead.

They fought back in the second half, but the Aztecs could only go so far without Nathan Mensah, losing him to nasty trouble – and his temper.

San Diego State leveled the game near halftime when the Lobos missed eight of nine shots. After a faulty jumper by Darrion Trammell, Micah Parrish grabbed the rebound and made the second chance to knot it at 45.

They then took the lead for the first time from free throws from Parrish, who was fouled under the basket by a turnover from Donovan Dent after a quick break.

Mensah forced the turnover, but a minute later he was gone. He called for a reach for his fourth foul and annoyed, he pulled a technical and fouled. After Jaelen House made both free throws and then hit a three, New Mexico snapped back the lead.

The Aztecs drew the ire of head coach Brian Dutcher, but after a time-out during which he vented his anger, the Lobos took over and added seven more unanswered points to take a 60-49 lead.

SDSU retired with three minutes remaining with four minutes left when Lamont Butler landed two free throws, but neither Matt Bradley with 14 points nor Trammell with only four points had a great night.

Overall, the Aztecs shot 42% against the Lobos and only made 11 of 21 free-throw attempts.

“We fought back twice,” Dutcher told San Diego Sports 760. “You can only fight back so many times and not take advantage of it.”

The Lobos guards did, however, as House dominated the second half with 21 points, as did Mashburn in the first. House scored 29 and Mashburn 22 that night.

Next, SDSU travels to the state of Colorado for a Wednesday competition at 7:30 p.m.