ALBUQUERQUE — Eastern New Mexico University’s men competed admirably Saturday night in an exhibition game against five-time Mountain West Conference champion New Mexico before losing to the Lobos 87-68 at The Pit.
The Lobos, 29-6 last season and ranked 23rd in the Associated Press preseason poll, never led by more than the final margin of 19 points, and they didn’t reach that until less than five minutes remained.
Seven-foot junior center Alex Kirk posted game-highs of 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Lobos, who dominated the boards 52-26 and limited the Greyhounds to 37 percent field goal shooting on 23-of-63.
Senior guard Kendall Willoiams and 6-9 senior forward Cameron Barstow added 14 points each for the Libos, while sophomore guard Cleveland Thomas and freshman guard Cullen Neal, son of Lobos coach Craig Neal, finished with 10 points each.
Senior guards Rodney Blackmon and Kyle Lantz scored 16 points each for ENMU, Lantz doing it off the bench with 6-for-9 shooting, including 3-of-5 on 3-pointers. Senior guard Devone Davis added 15 ppoinits and five assists, while senior guard Rafael Love scored 11 points.
Lantz hit a 3-pointer after more than 3 1/2 minutes had been played for the game’s first points, but the Lobos answered with the next seven capped by Williams’ 3-pointer and never trailed again.
The Hounds pulled to 17-16 on a layup by Lantz with 11:40 left in the half, but UNM went on a 9-0 run and eventually led 41-32 at the half. ENMU had the margin in single digits early in the second half before the Lobos pulled away for good.
ENMU opens the regular season next Saturday with a 6 p.m. game against Missouri Southern in the Las Vegas (Nev.) Tip-Off Classic.
Zias fall to Grand Canyon: The ENMU women’s team fell behind 11-3 in less than four minutes and dropped a 65-44 exhibition decision to host Grand Canyon on Saturday.
The Antelopes, moving up from Division II to the Division I Western Athletic Conference this season, put four players in double figures, led by 17 points from junior guard Kaitlyn Peterson and 12 from senior guard-forward Judy Jones, an All-WAC preseason first-team selection.
The Lopes led 36-15 at halftime and stretched that to 46-17 with 14 minutes left. GCU shot just 27 percent for the game, including 2-of-18 from 3-point range, but cominated the boards 59-41 behind senior forward Johnna Brown, who had 10 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
The Zias were led by 12 points from sophomore forward Nelsha Peterson, while junior post Jasmine Johnson led the team in rebounds with eight. ENMU shot 36 percent for the game, including just 16 percent (5-of-31) in the first half.
The Zias tip off the regular season next weekend in a four-team event at Durango, Colo., facing host Adams State at 7 p.m. on Friday and Colorado State-Pueblo at 4 p.m. on Saturday.