Lyle scores 20 as New Mexico holds off Air Force 84-78
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — JaQuan Lyle scored 20 points with four assists before fouling out to lead New Mexico to an 84-78 victory over Air Force on Saturday.
Two big blocks from the Lobos’ Zane Martin and Corey Manigault in the closing minutes helped New Mexico (15-3, 4-1 Mountain West Conference) secure the victory.
The Falcons (8-9, 2-3) got a season-high 26 points and nine boards from Lavelle Scottie, but he had little help inside as the Lobos held a 44-36 scoring advantage in the paint. Caleb Morris had 12 points for Air Force, but it took him 13 shots to get there.
It’s the 11th straight time the Lobos have beaten Air Force in Albuquerque.
Air Force’s Ryan Swan, who had success shutting down prior big men, was exposed by the Lobos’ insiders as Manigault was uncontested inside most of the game and finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Carlton Bragg, still getting his legs back after a three-game suspension, had 11 points and seven boards.
A goal coming into the game for the Lobos was to stifle the Air Force deep game and they succeeded, limiting the Falcons to 8-for-28 shooting on 3-pointers.
The Lobos outscored the Falcons by eight points from the free-throw line and also enjoyed a 26-7 advantage on fast-break points.
Air Force: The loss renders the Falcons’ upset of Utah State immaterial as they remain in the middle of the conference standings.
New Mexico: The Lobos’ win keeps them among the conference leaders, and leaves them one loss behind San Diego State, which they see at home Jan. 29.
Air Force: The Falcons are at home Jan. 15 against Boise State
New Mexico: The Lobos are at Colorado State on Jan. 15.