Another slow start put the Boise State basketball team in a hole Tuesday night.
The Broncos dug themselves out a little more than they did against Fresno State on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough.
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After trailing by as many as 28 points in the first half against the Bulldogs and losing by nine, the Broncos trailed by 20 in the first half against New Mexico. They cut the Lobos’ lead to two in the second half but were unable to finish their rally, falling 81-70.
It is the second straight loss for Boise State (11-6, 4-2 Mountain West) and its first at Taco Bell Arena this season. The Broncos had won seven in a row before the losses.
“If we came out and we played as hard as we did in the second half, we wouldn’t be talking about this right now because we would have had the W,’’ sophomore Paris Austin said.
Boise State outscored New Mexico (11-8, 4-3) 39-32 in the second half and got within 64-62 at the 6:01 mark on Austin’s steal and layup. Senior James Reid had a pair of costly turnovers that led to six New Mexico points. The Lobos outscored the Broncos 17-8 over the final 5 minutes, with nine of those points coming off free throws.
“I turned it over twice and gave up points on the other end. I’m frustrated because I let down my team at that point at the game,” said Reid, who came off the bench to lead the Broncos with 16 points. “I’ll learn from it. It won’t happen again.”
New Mexico shot 65.5 percent from the field in the first half, many of those on uncontested layups or jumpshots. It was the second game in a row that Boise State allowed an opponent to shoot 60 percent or better in the first half. Boise State trailed 49-31 at halftime.
“We didn’t get any stops. Our defense didn’t offer any resistance, which puts so much strain on our offense,” Boise State head coach Leon Rice said. “We just let them be so comfortable in the first half.”
The Broncos came out with renewed focus in the second half, holding the Lobos to 8-for-25 from the field. New Mexico was held scoreless for nearly six minutes in the second half, allowing the Broncos to make their run.
After their scorching start, New Mexico shot 32 percent in the second. Tim Williams led the Lobos with 19 points, 11 of those coming in the first half.
“We guarded them to start the second half,” Rice said. “That was terrific, but the hole was pretty big.”
Junior Chandler Hutchison, Austin and Reid combined to score 27 points in the second half, which helped Boise State get within two points. However, a combination of turnovers, New Mexico’s sharp free throw shooting and the Broncos’ inability to make shots prevented Boise State from getting any closer.
The Broncos shot 37.9 percent from the field overall, including 5-for-23 from 3-point range. New Mexico entered the game allowing 39.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“We weren’t playing hard (in the first half). We were playing soft. Not doing little things,” Reid said. “I don’t know if we got complacent because we started winning games, but I think it’s pretty obvious a different team came out at halftime. The only thing we changed was going harder, and that can’t be the case.”
Boise State plays at San Jose State at 3 p.m. Saturday (streamed on Mountain West Network). The Spartans (9-7, 2-3) host Wyoming on Wednesday night.
NOTES: The official attendance Tuesday night was 3,752 (the game started at 9 p.m. on ESPNU). The Broncos are averaging 4,151 fans a game, down from 6,271 last season. ... Boise State had won 11 straight games at home. New Mexico was the last visiting team to win at Taco Bell Arena. ... Duncan was 2-for-9 from 3-point range, giving him 219 career made 3-pointers and moving him to No. 4 in school history. Duncan passed Jeff Elorriaga (218; 2010-14). ... Zach Haney scored in double figures (10) for the second time in the last three games and second time of his career. He added a game-high nine rebounds.
NEW MEXICO 81, BOISE STATE 70
NEW MEXICO (11-8)
Williams 8-16 2-2 19, Aget 1-4 2-2 4, Harris 2-3 2-2 6, Brown 4-13 6-7 16, Kuiper 2-3 0-0 5, Furstinger 0-1 0-0 0, Hunter 2-5 6-6 11, Logwood 6-7 3-3 16, Jefferson 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 27-54 21-22 81.
BOISE STATE (11-6)
Duncan 3-10 4-5 12, Wacker 1-3 0-0 2, Jessup 2-4 0-0 4, Hutchison 5-14 4-5 14, Austin 4-8 4-5 12, Haney 3-9 4-6 10, Jorch 0-0 0-0 0, Reid 4-10 5-5 16, Dickinson 0-0 0-0 0, Oluyitan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-58 21-26 70.
Halftime—New Mexico 49-31. 3-Point Goals—New Mexico 6-12 (Brown 2-6, Logwood 1-1, Williams 1-1, Hunter 1-2, Kuiper 1-2), Boise State 5-23 (Reid 3-8, Duncan 2-9, Jessup 0-2, Haney 0-2, Austin 0-2). Fouled Out—Jessup, Kuiper. Rebounds—New Mexico 26 (Brown 7), Boise State 30 (Haney 9). Assists—New Mexico 10 (Brown 4), Boise State 10 (Hutchison 3). Total Fouls—New Mexico 20, Boise State 21. A—3,752 (12,480).