ALBUQUERQUE — The first thing you must know about San Diego State's 22nd defeat of the season is that the Aztecs didn't take the shovel into their own hands.
This time it was just a matter of being beaten by a better team. In that respect, the Aztecs' 76-66 loss to New Mexico Saturday night wasn't as frustrating as some of the others.
Yet, at the same time, it was another loss. That makes 16 straight, if you're still counting. And, at 0-12 in the Western Athletic Conference and 2-22 overall, the depths just get deeper for Smokey Gaines, who now has only four games plus the WAC tournament left in his tenure as the Aztec coach.
"We didn't get no breaks," Gaines said. "We got none at all. But that's the way it's been the whole season."
The Aztecs played catch-up the entire game but showed enough spunk that the Lobos couldn't put them away until the final minutes.
But puzzling was the disappearing act of SDSU's three leading scorers. Tony Ross played only 21 minutes and left the game for good with 3 1/2 minutes remaining and the Aztecs down by 10. Ross still led the Aztecs with 17 points.
"His defense wasn't what it was supposed to be," Gaines said. "We said earlier (that) guys wouldn't play much if that happened."
In addition, Josh Lowery played only eight minutes and Gerald Murray 15 minutes. Gaines said Lowery had a touch of the flu, but he started.
So, much of the scoring load went to Rodney Hawkins, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and William Campbell, who made 5 of 6 shots for 12 points.
In the first of several runs at the Lobos, SDSU trailed, 38-21, late in the first half but scored the last eight points of the period. However, New Mexico scored the first nine points of the second half.
And that was typical of how the night went. The Aztecs were as close as 61-53 with six minutes remaining but could score only two baskets in the next 3 1/2 minutes.
"We made some runs," Gaines said. "We didn't give up. We played hard. We haven't given up all season. But it's the same old thing.
"Now we're just playing it out. We're just playing out the season."
New Mexico got 25 points from the WAC's leading scorer, Hunter Greene, and 16 from Kelvin Scarborough, who trails only Greene in conference scoring.