Stevens: Fenton Scores Career-High 16 In 75-46 Rout of San Diego
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/28/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 28, 2010

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Lobo Men's Basketball - In The Pit
Lobos 75, San Diego 46
Wednesday: 6 p.m. (MT), Lobos at Southern Illinois
Saturday (Dec. 4): 7 p.m., Lobos at New Mexico State
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Stats, GameTracker

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It was exactly The Pit sendoff the young University of New Mexico Lobos needed prior to visiting gyms certain to be less friendly to Lobos. Like at Southern Illinois on Wednesday. Like at New Mexico State on Saturday.

UNM shot a warm 50 percent from the floor Sunday afternoon in smoking San Diego 75-46. The Lobos pounded the boards and won that battle 37-26. The Lobos' defense was nasty enough to hold the Toreros to 37 percent shooting.

And the UNM offense was smooth and efficient in its inside-outside punch.

"Execution at the offensive end takes some time," said Lobo coach Steve Alford, who saw his Lobos improve their season mark to 4-1. "Today we took a big step forward. We had a better understanding of why we are running things and that made our shots a little easier."

Lobo Jamal Fenton really made his shots look easy. He went 5-of-8 from the field which included four treys. He finished with a career-high 16 points. "I just hit one (trey) and afterwards the goal starting looking big," said the 5-foot-9 (maybe!) Fenton.

The Toreros hung with the Lobos early in the first half and then the Lobos more or less said, "goodbye." They ran to a 32-18 halftime lead and continued to pull away in the second half before settling for the 29-point win. UNM was up 53-31 at the 11:43 media break of the second half.

It just got worse for the Toreros. A Fenton trey pushed the score to a fat 64-34 count and San Diego called time at 6:40. The game was well out of reach, but San Diego needed to slow down the rout.

"New Mexico made a little bit of a run and we got really rattled," said Torero coach Bill Grier. "We went away from executing our stuff and we let their (physicality) get the best of us. We started trying to do too many things on our own and we're just not talented enough individually to not play as a team."

Fenton was joined in double figures by Phillip McDonald with 11 and A.J. Hardeman with 10. Freshman Cameron Bairstow added nine points, going 4-of-4 from the field for the second game in a row.

"It's getting better every day," Bairstow said of UNM's chemistry on offense.

Alford dipped deep into his bench to throw out 12 Lobos and 11 scored, including walk-on Chris Perez. The Lobos got a good effort on the edge as Dairese Gary had eight points and five assists and Kendall Williams had seven points and five assists. Fenton added four assists and two steals.

Fenton was named the KKOB Player of The Game. Alford said Fenton was his players of the game, too, "because he took a charge."

The Lobos' inside game also was fueled on the boards by Emmanuel Negedu with seven rebounds and 6-11 Alex Kirk with six boards. UNM went 17-of-24 from the free-throw line while San Diego went 3-of-6.

Junior A.J. Hardeman

"I thought we did a really good job," said Alford. "We guarded well for 40 minutes. Our offense had a better flow to it and we got some good minutes out of a lot of guys."

The Lobos visit Southern Illinois looking for their first road win of 2010-11. "Last year we won a lot of road games," said Fenton. "This year we have to try and do better, which is going to be hard with our young group."

Alford said at Southern Illinois he expects "to see a very stingy, very aggressive, man-to-man defense.

"It's not an easy road trip," the Lobo coach added. "You have to fly to St. Louis and then take a two-hour bus trip. It's a difficult place to play. Hopefully, we can play better on the road than when we went to Cal."

FIRST HALF: Lobos 32, San Diego 18
Stat leaders: Gary 8 pts., Hardeman 7 pts., Fenton 4 assts.

It was a good start as far as balanced basket. The teams played evenly early. UNM was up 8-7 at the 15:51 break, down 13-12 at 11:26 and up 18-15 with 7:50 to play. The Lobos then used some turnovers , easy buckets, and a lot of San Diego misses to pull away 27-15.

Gary's trey from the left side formed that 12-point lead and convinced San Diego to burn a timeout with 3:30 to play. A big edge for UNM at that mark was 7-of-7 shooting from the free-throw line. San Diego had not gone to the line.

The break didn't help San Diego much. UNM carried a 15-point lead into the halftime rest. UNM shot a hot 52.4 percent from the floor to 30.8 percent for San Diego. UNM won the board battle 16-11 and had seven steals to two for San Diego.