Dec. 9, 2009
Wednesday: Lobos 82, San Diego 78
Up Next: Lobos vs. Texas A&M, 4 p.m., Saturday in Houston
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobos' 82-78 win over San Diego probably wasn't exactly the way Lobo coach Steve Alford wants his Lobos to finish on the road -- well, except for the win -- but it probably was exactly what he expects on the road from his two leaders: Martinez and Gary.
Martinez and Gary placed the Lobos on their capable shoulders at key moments in the second half as New Mexico stayed undefeated by rallying from a 34-32 halftime deficit into the Lobos' ninth win of the season.
"I thought Dairese and Ro did that," Alford said of his two upperclassmen stepping up in crunch time vs. San Diego.
The Lobos got a career-high 21 points from Gary and a career-high 26 points from Martinez, who went 8-of-9 from behind the line, never attempting a two-point shot Wednesday night on the Toreros' home floor.
"He is just a phenomenal player," said Alford of his senior. "It's night-in and night-out and he was there again tonight."
The Lobos were playing with good effort against San Diego, but it was obvious the Lobos were going to have to grind out a victory against a determined group of Toreros. A key point in the game was when Alford pulled out of his man-to-man defense and went into a soft, three-quarters press that fell into a 3-2 zone.
"We were a step slow, a little sluggish and didn't have a lot of fire," said Alford. "Teams that had beat them (Toreros) pretty soundly had played zone. It was in our mind (to go zone).
"I thought it changed the momentum of the game and got them out of synch a little bit. They weren't able to drive the ball as effectively. It's not something I want to do for 40 minutes. All and all, everything worked out for the best. We find different ways of finding a win. Anytime you can get road wins, it`s big."
The Lobos, behind Martinez and Gary, were on fire in the second half, shooting 76 percent. UNM finished 12-of-18 from behind the 3-point line. The Lobos also got 10 points from Phillip McDonald, but this was a night in which the Lobos had to look to their two returning upperclassmen in order to leave San Diego with a win.
Gary and Martinez combined to score 36 points in the second half in pulling UNM out of a deficit and into a comfortable margin.
San Diego was led by De'Jon Jackson with 22 points and Brandon Johnson with 16 points. The Toreros shot 55.6 percent from the field, 11-of-22 from behind the line.
The Lobos got their first lead of the second half at 40-38 on a 3-pointer by Martinez. A trey by McDonald at the 13:06 mark put UNM up 50-47 and the Lobos never trailed again. The Lobos led 78-64 (14) with 58 seconds to play but allowed San Diego to make a few plays in the final minute to tighten the final score. USD closed the game on a 14-4 run.
The Lobos came out of the break down 34-32 and slipped into a 40-38 lead behind two treys by Martinez. A McDonald trey put the Lobos up 50-47. Martinez went 6-for-6 behind the line by throwing in a running 3-pointer near the top of the key that put UNM up 53-47. San Diego called timeout.
The Lobos' superior talent began to make a difference. A soft, three-quarters press forced a San Diego turnover and Hobson drove to flip in a short left-hander that pushed UNM up 55-47. San Diego penetrated the UNM zone and got Jackson a look at the top of the key. He drilled a trey to cut UNM's lead to 55-50. A.J. Hardeman came back to score for UNM: 57-50.
Martinez made it 7-for-7 with another swish from deep and the Lobos stretched their lead to 60-50. San Diego turned the ball over with 8:33 to go and McDonald tossed in an 18-footer to push UNM up 62-50. Jackson hit another trey: 62-53. He was 4-of-4 from behind the line.
At the 7:42 media timeout, UNM was up 62-53. San Diego then made a run that forced Alford into a timeout. The Toreros got a 3-pointer followed by a steal on a Hobson drive that led to a short Torero jumper. UNM's lead was cut to 62-58.
Gary then went backdoor off the San Diego man-to-man defense. The junior flipped in the layup and was fouled. He missed the extra shot, but UNM was up 64-58.
San Diego went inside to Chris Manresa, who flipped in a layup: 64-60. Gary drove again: 66-60. Clinton Houston scored inside for USC to cut UNM's lead to 66-62, but Gary powered in for another layup to make it 68-62.
USD went to the line at 4:33 and Jackson banged in two free throws to pull the Toreros to within four at 68-64. Houston fouled out with 4:19 to play sending Martinez to the line.
The Lobo senior hit two free shots: 70-64. Lewis got blocked inside and Gary got fouled on a drive. The Lobo guard made the first half of the one-and-one: 71-64. Manresa missed inside and Martinez buried his eighth trey: 74-64. The senior was now 8-of-9 from behind the line.
San Diego missed again and Johnson fouled Gary with 2:02 to play. Gary made the front side of the one-and-one and UNM was up 75-64 going into the final two minutes of play. The Lobos helped out San Diego a bit in the final minute, but UNM pulled in for the 82-78 win.
First Half: San Diego 34, Lobos 32
The first half featured a few nice runs for both teams. The Toreros threw out a 10-0 run to roll out of a 9-6 deficit into a 16-9 lead. San Diego did a good job of protecting that lead and went up 30-20.
Then it was the Lobos' turn to churn out some points. Alford went into a zone with his Lobos down by ten. Martinez came out with a long trey to cut the Toreros' lead to 30-23. With 2:03 to play, San Diego was calling a timeout clutching to a 30-28 lead. Lewis scored twice inside for San Diego to give it a 34-28 cushion. The Lobos got two free throws from Hardeman and a baseline jumper from Hobson to form the 34-32 halftime score.
"I gave us a chance, going in halftime being down only two points," said Alford.
The Lobos shot only 36.4 percent from the floor in the first half but went 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) from behind the line. San Diego shot 57.7 percent from the field with Lewis getting 11 points and five rebounds. Hobson had seven first-half points and Martinez had six. San Diego won the board war by one, 17-16.