Aug. 6, 2013
Sydney, Australia --- There are road wins, and then there are ROAD wins. For an exhibition game in August, the intensity was ratched up several notches, but New Mexico came back from 11 down in the second half to defeat the Sydney Kings of the NBL 87-85 in front of a packed house at legendary Bankstown Basketball Stadium.
The fact that it was August, and the fact that it was an exhibition game was not noticeable in the least bit, as both teams shot the ball well, and both teams pulled out the stops for a win. The game was also the first exhibition game of the preseason for the Kings as well.
Down eight at the break and as much as 11 in the second half, the Lobos came roaring back. It started with a Kendall Williams three-point play, the first of 12 fouls called on Sydney in the quarter, which worked to UNM's advantage. In international rules (which the game used), after the fifth foul in the quarter, all fouls are two shot fouls. UNM which was just 19-for-33 from the stripe, nonetheless came all the way back to tie the game at 70-70 on two Williams free throws with 24 seconds to go in the quarter.
Jason Harvey for the Kings eventually pushed Sydney back on top with his fourth three-pointer of the evening making it 81-76 with 4:27 left, but UNM went on a 9-0 run to take an 85-81 lead with 2:18 to go. It started when Bairstow found Kirk for a dunk that became a three-point play. Cam then tied it up with an 18-footer. After a Sydney timeout, Cleveland Thomas stole the inbounds pass for an uncontested layup and an 83-81 Lobo lead. Kendall hit two free throws to make it 85-81 before four Sydney freebies tied the affair at 85-85 with 43.4 seconds left.
That set up UNM's late-game heroics. Kirk was fouled with 23.7 left and made the second of two free throws for an 86-85 lead. Sydney worked the ball around to set up a final shot, but Greenwood anticipated and stole a pass intended for Harvey with 3.7 seconds left. He hit the second of two for an 87-85 lead, and then Harvey's pass for Jarrod Weeks was picked off by Williams, sealing the win.
"I was happy...great effort," said head coach Craig Neal, who was actually interviewed postgame by Williams and Kirk. "We didn't play great defense in the first half, we gave up 48 points. I thought (the) guys really came together in the second half."
UNM gave up a lead at the end of the first half after a Greenwood jumper put the Lobos up 24-23 with nine seconds left when UNM fouled Kevin White on a desperation three-point attempt with 0.1 left. White hit all three for a 26-24 quarter advantage for the Kings. They would keep that lead until the fourth quarter.
Williams led UNM with 24 points, including a 9-for-11 night from the line with three threes and six assists. Bairstow rewarded the Aussie faithful with a brilliant night in his home country, scoring 22 on 8-of-10 shooting and six rebounds. Alex Kirk had 19 and five, and Greenwood added 13.
For Sydney, Harvey led everyone with 27, and AJ Ogilvy had 22. Brad Hill and Kevin White each had 12. The Lobos shot 52 percent from the field (31-of-60) while Sydney was 45 percent (25-of-55).
The Lobos now head to Melbourne for the second of three games in Australia, taking on the SEABL All-Stars. Game time in 7 p.m. on Thursday.
NOTES: Bairstow will miss the game in Melbourne as he is heading to the Boomers camp for tryouts for the top Boomer squad. AJ Ogilvy of the Kings will also be at the 15-man camp as Australia looks to pare that number down to 12 ... UNM `s points by quarters was 24, 16, 30, and 17 while Sydney's was 26, 22, 22 and 15 ... UNM was outrebounded 34-26 ... The Lobos had just nine turnovers ... there were 11 lead changes and 11 ties, but UNM only led for 7:36 of the game, compared to 31:28 for the Kings ... prior to the game the teams exchanged shirts.