Feb. 13, 2010
Saturday: Lobos 68, Utah 65 (OT)
Wednesday: Wyoming at Lobos, The Pit
Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The runaway train called the New Mexico Lobos is still on track, still on the track, and still atop the Mountain West Conference after a thrilling 68-65 overtime win over the gutsy Utah Utes Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
"I loved this one just like I loved Wednesday night's," said Lobo coach Steve Alford, referring to UNM's win at UNLV. "You are what your record is and we're 23-and-3. These guys are amazing."
Take you pick of huge plays and huge Lobos at the end, but give credit to Senior Roman Martinez and sophomore A.J. Hardeman. The two Lobos came up with some huge plays in overtime as UNM pulled out of a 62-60 OT hole and ran past the Utes.
-- Hardeman took away a David Foster dunk by accepting a charge from Luka Drca after the pass. That foul put Drca on the bench with five fouls and scratched two points off the scoreboard.
-- Martinez was the next player to move the scoreboard. He popped off a screen and drilled a quick 3-pointer at the top of the key that pushed UNM up 65-62 with 1:26 to play. "Coach drew me up a great play," said Martinez. "I was fortunate enough to hit a big shot. It's always good to see the ball go in."
-- Credit Hardeman again. He earlier tied the game at 62-all with a dunk on a follow. The 6-8 sophomore finished the game with 12 boards as UNM pounded the taller Utes on the glass, 45-to-36. The Lobos had 16 offensive boards to six for Utah.
"This team has tremendous chemistry. These guys fight for each other," said Alford. "One of the things we tried to change here was the demeanor on the road. There has to be a sense of pride. This team really gets it. These guys are driven and they sense something very special."
The Lobos already have something pretty special. The Lobos won their ninth straight Mountain West Conference game and have won five MWC road games. They are tied with Brigham Young in the MWC loss column at two. There were a lot of eye-popping numbers from a lot of Lobos on this special night in Salt Lake City as Alford became the first Lobo coach ever to win two games in the Huntsman Center.
He did it in three seasons.
Dairese Gary led UNM with 19 points. He added five boards and four assists with no turnovers in 37 minutes. Darington Hobson was two points shy of a triple-double with eight points, 11 assists and ten rebounds. Phillip McDonald had 13 points. Martinez had 15 points with six boards and two steals. Martinez was 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
"It's always tough to play Utah at Utah," said Martinez. "It was a big-time win. We focused. We were totally focused."
Utah got 21 points from freshman Marshall Henderson. Drca had 16 and Carlon Brown powered for 18 points. Brown hit a baseline trey off a Henderson pass to force the overtime period. The 7-foot-3 Foster had seven blocks, but only two points.
The Lobos will be looking to tie a school mark by going for their 10th conference win when Wyoming visits The Pit on Wednesday. "We have a tough game coming up," said Martinez.
"You get two wins on this road trip and you are very pleased," said Alford. "I think our guys proved we can play just about any tempo and still get a win.
"The guys are already talking about playing in The Pit on Wednesday. We really appreciate our crowd and what we have in The Pit."
The win was impresssive for another reason, too. The Lobos took a 6-52 record into games on the Utes' home court. It's now 7-52.
Overtime: Lobos 8, Utah 5
The Utes grabbed a quick 62-60 lead on a Brown drive down the lane. UNM tied it a 62-all on a Hardeman dunk on a follow. The Utes got a monster dunk by Foster on a lob pass from Drca, but Hardeman took the charge after the pass. The basket was negated and Drca went to the bench with five fouls.
UNM missed at its end and Utah got the rebound and called timeout with 2:00 to play. Utah turned it over on a bad pass at 1:37. The Lobos made the Utes pay when Martinez popped off a screen, got open at the top of the key, took in a pass from Hobson, and drained the three: 65-62. "Ro made a big shot," said Alford. "He did a great job of executing."
The Utes' Brown then missed on a forced six-footer. Martinez got the board. Hobson was fouled with 22.6 ticks to go and drilled both. UNM was up 67-62. The Utes then got an impossible 3-pointer on a hanging, fadeaway by Henderson. That made it 67-65 and Utah fouled Gary with 12.2 seconds to play.
Gary missed the first shot wide and swished the second: 68-65. Henderson showed his youth by forcing up a too-soon, too-long trey. Utah got the board and managed to get another off-balanced trey at the gun. It was way off.
Second Half -- Utah 35, Lobos 29
The Lobos came out of the half up by six points and at 15:49 had padded that lead by two points: 37-29. The Utes then threw out a quick 7-0 run that got Alford to his feet calling a timeout. The Utes got a 12-footer from Jaaon Washburn, a 3-pointer by Henderson and a layup by Jay Watkins. Henderson's bomb came after the 7-3 Foster blocked a dunk attempt by UNM's Will Brown. That run cut it to 37-36.
Martinez came out of the UNM huddle to hit a long trey and a big shot to beat the shot clock and put UNM up 40-36. The Lobos had a 42-36 lead going into the 11:25 break.
The Utes then went on another run that tied the score at 43-all and convinced UNM's Alford to call for another team chat. Henderson cut UNM's lead to 43-41, driving down the lane and floating in a left-handed shot over Hardeman, who fouled the young Ute. He made the free throw.
Jamal Fenton missed at the other end and it led to Utah scoring in transition -- a lob to Watkins, who threw down a dunk for the 43-43 tie. The teams went back and forth going into the next break at 6:42. Gary scored two free throws and hit a stepaway jumper to help UNM form the 47-all tie. Utah still had not led in the second half.
UNM then jumped up 50-47. Hobson drove at Foster and kicked out to McDonald on the wing. He hit the trey: 50-47. Gary then scored on a power drive over Foster: 52-47. The Lobos got another big bucket from Gary, a putback of his own miss, and UNM carried a 54-49 lead into a break with 3:39 to play. "Dairese hit some big shots for us in that stretch," said Alford.
The Utes got a jumper from Drca: 54-51. The Utes lost Gary, who pulled up for a 16-footer: 56-51. Gary was back at the line with 2:43 to play. He made one: 57-51 -- six-point UNM lead.
The Lobos then let it slip away, for a while. The Utes hit six free throws to tie the game at 57-all with 1:25 to play. The Lobos had the ball. UNM's possession led to a long trey by Martinez that was way wide, but Hardeman was there for the putback and a 59-57 UNM lead. It was another huge board by Hardeman.
Watkins missed on a drive for Utah. Gary missed on a drive for UNM. Henderson missed on a drive for Utah. Hardeman pushed UNM up 60-57 making the second of two free throws. Utah threw the ball into Foster near halfcourt, who fed the ball back to Henderson. The Ute freshman drove and kicked off to Brown on the left baseline. He drilled it -- 60-all and overtime.
First Half -- Lobos 31, Utah 25
The tempo in the first half probably favored Utah, but the scoreboard favored UNM. Martinez hit three 3-pointers to pace UNM with nine points. UNM shot 41.4 percent from the floor to 36 percent for Utah. The Utes were 2-of-12 from behind the line and UNM was 5-of-9.
At the first media break, the Lobos were up 12-10. UNM got six points from Martinez on two 3-pointers and four points from Hobson. Drca hit two treys for Utah.
The Lobos went up 20-15 at the 11:59 break. UNM's 20th point was a Hardeman follow on a Garth miss. At the 7:34 break, Utah had clawed back to 20-19. Foster got a flip shot to fall from in close and also became a factor on the defensive end bothering a few UNM shots.
The Lobos got back-to-back treys from Martinez and McDonald and the 26-19 Lobo lead forced Utah into a timeout with 4:38 to play. The Lobos still had that seven-point lead at the final media break of the half.
Gary then took over the floor for UNM, hitting a three pointer and driving on Foster to touch one off the glass. Those five points put UNM up 31-23. Drca went to the line with 5.1 seconds to play and hit both free shots. UNM went into the half up 31-25 -- six points.