Dent Goes Length Of Floor For Winning Layup In New Mexico's 68-66 Win Over No. 22 Colorado State

New Mexico guard Donovan Dent drives to the basket for the game-winning basket with seconds remaining against Colorado State in an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
New Mexico guard Donovan Dent drives to the basket for the game-winning basket with seconds remaining against Colorado State in an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
View All (3)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Donovan Dent drove the length of the court to lay in the winning shot with 2.8 seconds to play and give New Mexico a 68-66 win over No. 22 Colorado State on Wednesday night.

Dent, who finished with 16 points, barreled straight up the floor with the Lobos trailing by one, found a seam through the lane and banked the ball in off the glass as he was fouled. After he made the foul shot, Nique Clifford’s fadeaway 3-pointer hit the rim at the buzzer.

New Mexico (21-6, 9-5 Mountain West) had four players in double figures, with Jamal Mashburn Jr. also scoring 16 and Jaelen House adding 14. Nelly Junior Joseph chipped in 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Lobos.

“We knew we had to have that game,” New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said. “We have a lot respect for Colorado State. (Isaiah) Stevens is one of the best players to play in this league. Hopefully, I never see him again because he’s really good.”

Colorado State’s Stevens scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the final eight minutes of the game, including two from the line to give the Rams (20-7, 8-6) a 66-65 lead. Joel Scott added 18 for the Rams.

It was New Mexico’s third win at home this season against AP Top 25 teams, all from the Mountain West. The Lobos had lost two straight at home coming into the game.

“I did not want to walk out of this building with another loss,” Pitino said. “I could not bring myself to do that.”

After the Rams opened the scoring with a Scott bucket, New Mexico scored the next 13 points. Colorado State, however, battled back with a 23-5 run, spurred by two 3-pointers from Jalen Lake and one from Stevens to take a 25-20 lead. It was 30-30 at halftime.

On the winning drive, Colorado State tried to stuff Dent before he reached the paint.

“I think our guys did an unbelievable job of hanging in there. Ultimately, we just needed to get one more stop,” Rams coach Niko Medved said. “Obviously, once we got the lead again on the two free throws from (Stevens), you know they’re going to run something to go downhill. I thought we had the opportunity to build a wall there at the top of the key, but Dent split us and got to the rim and ultimately, that was the play that won the game.”

Dent had a similar, full-court, game-winning sprint earlier in the season and Pitino said he didn’t see any reason to change a good thing.

“Same play,” he said. “Give the ball to Donnie and let him go figure it out. That’s really what it was. We thought they might go zone. They’ve shown that from time to time. But when you have 6, 7 seconds you don’t have a lot of time to run a play. You just put it in his hands and he’ll make the right play and he did that.”

BIG PICTURE

With the win, the Lobos pulled into a tie with San Diego State for third in the conference standings, a game behind league-leading Utah State.

The loss drops the Rams into a virtual tie for seventh with UNLV.

UPCOMING

New Mexico is home against Air Force on Saturday.

Colorado State travels to UNLV on Saturday in what will be an important game for both schools.

__

Get poll alerts and updates on the AP Top 25 throughout the season. Sign up here.

___

AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball