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Stevens: Alford's Lobos Rally For 54-48 Win At Fresno State
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/13/2013
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 13, 2013

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New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - Mountain West - At Fresno State

Wednesday:

New Mexico 54, Fresno State 48
Saturday:7 p.m.,(MT) - Boise State Broncos at New Mexico - The Pit

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Again, the Lobos found a way.

They did it with defense. They did it with rebounding. They did it by hitting big baskets. They did it by doing all those fundamental little things that so often win basketball games.

The Lobos did it by climbing out of an 11-point halftime hole and out of a 48-45 deficit with 3:47 to play to post a 54-48 Mountain West win at Fresno State Wednesday night.

Chew on this stat: The Fresno Bulldogs (8-15, 2-8 MW) scored two field goals in their gym in the final 10:20. Or this: They scored one field goal in the final 10 minutes going 1-of-11 from the field. The 'Dogs shot 27 percent in the second half, scoring 17 points.

Ouch.

"We locked them up defensively. We got on the glass. We did it because we played really hard-nosed defense and we made big plays," said Lobo Coach Steve Alford.

"This is a special team. The guys just understand the moment. You have to sit back and know that at some point they are going to find a way."

The Lobos, 68-2 under Coach Steve Alfordwhen holding a team under 60 points, are still on top of the Mountain looking down at the pack. Colorado State beat San Diego State 66-60 in Fort Collins, Colo., to continue breathing down the Lobos' neck.

The Lobos (21-4, 8-2 MW) had three players in double figures: Tony Snell (10),, Kendall Williams (13), and Alex Kirk (10).

Kirk added nine boards and a career-high six blocks. Cameron Bairstowhad 10 boards. Greenwood had seven points, five boards, three assists and three steals.

"That's Hugh Greenwood. He has been phenomenal," said Alford of his point guard, who is 46-8 in his starts as a Lobo. "He did a heck of a job defensively. He is one of the best defending guards this conference has and he's only a sophomore. He understands making winning plays."

The Lobos' win was aided by some impressive second-half numbers. UNM outscored Fresno 16-4 in the paint and 12-0 in points off turnovers. UNM had eight second-chance points to none for the 'Dogs. Fresno did not make or shoot a free throw in the second half.

For sure, the Lobos had to throw out some improved offense to crawl out of their 11-point hole, but this win should be credited to the UNM defense.

UNM was down by three with 3:47 to play and finished the game on a 9-0 run. The Lobos used five offensive boards to produce four points - the last two a dunk by Cameron Bairstowthat pushed UNM into a 49-48 lead.

GAME INFORMATION
  1st 2nd Final
No. 19/18 New Mexico
(21-4, 8-2 MW)
20 34 54
Fresno State
(8-15, 2-8 MW)
31 17 48
 Game Leaders
  New Mexico Fresno State
 Points Williams 13 Olekaibe 11
 Rebounds

Bairstow 10

Foster 10
 Assists Williams 5 T. Johnson 5
 Steals Greenwood 3 Foster/A. Anderson 2
 Blocks Kirk 6 Giddings/Foster 1
 Team Statistics
  New Mexico Fresno State
 PTS 54 48
 FG 12-56 (.375) 18-55 (.327)
 3pt FG 5-19 (.263) 9-24 (.375)
 FT 7-11 (.636) 3-4 (.750)
 REB 14-25 (39) 12-24 (36)
 TO 7 11

The Lobos then forced a backcourt violation on a Bulldog in-bounds pass that led to a single free throw by Hugh Greenwood. He missed the second shot in a one-and-one situation, but Fresno mishandled the rebound. UNM pretty much sealed the win on a 15-foot jumper by Snell with 21 seconds to go.

"I could not be more proud of this basketball team," said Alford. "Our guys are 21-4 and this gives us our ninth win away from home. Our locker room knows how to win. There is a winning mindset in that locker room and it's not a trait that's easily found."

It's also a trait that is not easily beaten. Just ask the Mountain West teams looking up at New Mexico.

Second Half:New Mexico 34, Fresno State 17

It was important for the Lobos to get out to another good start, score some field goals, and quickly get back into the game. They did it. The improved intensity on UNM's defense and offense was obvious.

The Lobos got 2-pointers from Greenwood and Kirk and then Snell popped in a three to pull the Lobos to 31-27. The Lobos were back in it.

At the 14:27 break, Fresno finally got on the board and were up 35-29. UNM got buckets from Snell and Greenwood, off a steal, to make it 35-33 with 13:55 to go. The Lobos hit back-to-back treys to pull into a shallow 40-39 hole at the 11:50 mark. A dunk by Williams finally put the Lobos back into the lead: 41-40.

Fresno not only needed to match the Lobos on the scoreboard, but needed to match UNM's intensity. The Bulldogs got a layup and a 3-pointer to claim a 45-41 lead. UNM called a timeout. At the 3:13 media break, a Bulldog trey had the home team up 48-45.

The Lobos then cranked up their defense and their offensive board work. They got four looks at the basket and scored and then got two looks to go up 49-48. They held Fresno on the other end. The `Dogs had the ball with 1:19 to play and down 49-48.

The Bulldogs turned it over on an in-bounds pass that turned into a backcourt violation. Fresno fouled Greenwood at 53.4. He made the front end of a one-and-one, missed the back end, but Fresno lost the board out of bounds. That led to Snell's jumper with 21 ticks to go.

"This team is going to beat somebody on this floor that matters and we didn't want to be that team.," said Alford. "There is no way (Fresno State) is an 8-15 team."

First Half:Fresno State 31, New Mexico 20

Good start. Bad finish. Big Hole.

The Lobos jumped up on Fresno State 16-to-9 on a jumper by Demetrius Walkerwith 8:13 to play in the half. That was the Lobos' last field goal of the half. One thing that Coach Alford preaches is not to let teams get on a run, but the Bulldogs rolled out a 14-0 scoring spurt to pull out of that 16-9 hole and into a 23-16 lead.

"I chewed them out pretty good ate halftime because we went through about an eight-minute period where I thought we were soft," said Alford.

Alex Kirk broke the UNM drought at the line and Kendall Williamsprovided two more free throws to push the Lobos to their 20-point total.

UNM shot a frigid 26.9 percent (7-of-26) in the first half while Fresno was a tad warmer at 39.3 percent (11-28). The `Dogs went 6-of-13 from long range and also won the board battle 23-16. UNM was 2-of-9 from long range.

The Lobos were looking to take advantage of the 7-foot Kirk and 6-9 Bairstow, but that combo went 3-of-12 from the floor and the points in the paint was 6-all. Alford got a technical at the 5:13 mark and Fresno State was called for its first foul of the game at 4:54.

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