New Mexico Lobos Mountain West Basketball – At Fresno State
Saturday: New Mexico 89, Fresno State 78
Tuesday: 7:15 p.m. -- Boise State at New Mexico -- The Pit
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.
There was Lobo praise to throw out in so many directions after this one and it’s safe to say that the Lobos lived up to Coach Craig Neal’s expectations in UNM’s 89-78 win Saturday night at Fresno State.
“I was expecting execution and I expecting everyone to do all the little things,” said Neal, whose Lobos are 13-4 overall and 4-1 in Mountain West play. "I was expecting us to play at the level we are capable of playing at."
“I was impressed with everyone doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
Winning also is one of those things Neal expects his talented Lobos to be doing. They did that at Fresno and the win was a big one since it came in the wake of a heartbreaking loss in The Pit to UNLV.
The Lobos had balance and contribution from a lot of Lobos with five players reaching double figures. However, maybe the two biggest baskets came from a Lobo who didn’t crack into the double-digit column.
Lobo Hugh Greenwood hit back-to-back treys in the second half at the 8:14 mark and again at 7:36 which pushed the Lobos into a mighty 18-point lead that helped them to cruise in for the road win.
“It was a really good win,” said Neal, who said he asked his Lobos to play with an edge and a chip on their shoulder. “I sent that message after the UNLV game and they responded."
“They finished it out and competed and just didn’t let them shoot threes and cut the lead. I thought they were awesome today. I thought our effort and our focus was as good as it has been all year. We played exactly the way we wanted to play.”
UNM’s Cameron Bairstow continues to slice his way through Mountain West defenses. He finished with 22 points and eight boards going 14-of-19 from the free-throw line. Cullen Neal added 17 points, Kendall Williams had 13 and Alex Kirk had 12 points and seven boards.
“I wanted to get everyone involved,” said Neal. “I thought we got good minutes out of everyone.”
The Lobos had eight players in double-figure minutes and rested Lobo legs might come in handy with Boise State stepping into The Pit on Tuesday. Neal said the Lobos will have a 4:15 a.m., wake-up call Sunday in order to take an early flight back to Albuquerque.
The Lobos shot a torrid 53.1 percent for the game, but were red hot in the second half with 68.4 percent shooting – 13 of 19. UNM shot 43.3 percent in the first half, which is pretty good. Cullen Neal had 12 points in that half. Bairstow had only six points at the half, but scored 16 in the second half.
The New Mexico bench outscored Fresno's bench 31 to 14.
Fresno State shot 36.7 percent and those shooting stats were a reason Fresno was able to match UNM’s count on the boards: 35 all. Fresno simply didn’t have as many missed UNM shots to haul down and the long Fresno bombs helped the Bulldogs bring down 16 offensive boards.
Fresno State had four players in double figures, but went 8-of-25 from long range which hurt the 'Dogs simply because they have so much scoring potential on the edge. UNM was 8-of-22 from long range with Greenwood, Neal, Thomas and Williams getting two bombs each.
A key run for UNM came over the final 4:24 of the first half when UNM scratched out of a 27-23 hole and into a 32-27 halftime count. That 9-0 run came out of five points from Neal and four from Bairstow.