Denver (3-8) fell in Albuquerque, New Mexico to the New Mexico Lobos (6-4), 87-67, Thursday night. The loss was not the result of a lack of effort by the Pioneers but, rather, ice-cold shooting in the first half (31.5%) and 25-of-64 shooting for the game. Denver was frigid at the charity stripe as well, going 10-17 from the line in front of 8,000 fans at The Pit.
Both teams started out cold from the field in the first half. At the 10 minute mark, a Mikey Henn layup drew Denver within four points of the Lobos, 15-11. Over the next five minutes, Denver was outscored 18-2 and trailed 29-13 with five minutes remaining in the half. Denver nibbled at the 16 point margin over the final five minutes but trailed at the break, 41-27.
Denver’s shooting improved in the second half (46.9%) but the Lobos countered with 50% shooting from the field (following 71.4% shooting in the first half). Freshman Coban Porter provided a bright spot for Denver off the bench shooting 6-of-8 from the field and 3-for-3 from the line with 19 points for the game. Point guard Jordan Johnson also played well going 5-12 from the field with 12 points. The usually reliable KJ Hunt and Mikey Henn had a rough night with the duo shooting 8-23 from the field and 1-6 from beyond the arc.
Denver faced a more athletic team and the Lobos wore down the road-weary Pioneers. DU played a clean game with only 8 turnovers but a dreadful first-half of shooting essentially ended all hopes of a road upset. That being said, the future is not bleak, especially if Denver can add depth and talent over the next few seasons to the young players they have now. As we stated in our season preview, this team may only win 7/8 games this season but they must improve the talent, depth and culture. Now, we get to learn about their mental toughness – can they respond to adversity in a positive way?
This is Denver’s fifth straight road loss and the wear and tear are showing on the newly constituted squad. One road contest remains against Dixie State (Ut.) before the Pioneers finish their non-conference slate against UC San Diego. Denver is in the throes of 41 consecutive road losses. The current road-losing streak is putting DU’s prior 43-straight road loss record at risk. That streak was halted on February 21st, 2009 against Arkansas State.