Jan. 16, 2010
Saturday: Lobos 70, Wyoming 68
Up Next: Lobos at Air Force, 7 p.m., Wednesday, Colorado Springs
Online: GameTracker, game story, stats on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The New Mexico Lobos had only one player hit a 3-pointer in Laramie, but the Lobos found a way - and found a main man - to help them scratch out a 70-68 Mountain West Conference road win over the Wyoming Cowboys.
UNM went 3-of-19 from behind the line with only Phillip McDonald scoring from long range Saturday at Wyoming. But New Mexico got a career game inside from sophomore A.J. Hardeman, who scored 18 points, hauled down seven rebounds and added two blocks and two steals.
Oh, yeah, Hardeman also took three charges, the final one with 33 seconds to play and Wyoming down 67-64 and driving for a layup.
"Without question, he was our MVP tonight," said Lobo coach Steve Alford. "I thought he was tremendous, really good at both ends of the floor. We've seen this coming. This was a breakout game for him."
The win evened (16-3) UNM's MWC record at 2-2 - a Pit loss now balanced by a road win in a tough gym.
"This is a huge road win for us," said Alford. "It gets us back to even (road wins vs. home losses). We reduced the 16-game (MWC) schedule back to a 12-game schedule. We are back to even and we keep moving on."
The Lobos next move on to Air Force for a 7 p.m. Wednesday tip with the Falcons. A win at Laramie is a big win for these young Lobos. Not too many MWC teams will steal one on the Cowboys' floor. San Diego State already dropped a game in Laramie.
"It's not easy (to win here)," said Alford. "I think both teams really played hard and I think that's why it got a little ugly. We hold them to a low field-goal percentage and we hold them off the free-throw line. I think those were keys."
Wyoming is one of the nation's top teams when it comes to getting to the line and producing. The `Pokes shot only 11-of-19 vs. UNM. Wyoming shot 42.4 percent from the floor. UNM went 15-of-22 from the line.
Hardeman was joined in double figures by Darington Hobson and Phillip McDonald with 15 apiece. Hobson had seven boards, four assists and four steals. Senior Roman Martinez had eight rebounds. McDonald went 3-of-8 from 3-point range.
"I thought Phillip had a really good game," said Alford. "He puts so much pressure on himself, but we are very, very pleased with him."
Wyoming got 16 points from Afam Muojeki while Adam Waddell and Djibril Thiam each added 11 points. Wyoming got nine assists from JayDee Luster and eight boards from both Waddell and Ryan Dermody.
The Lobos had 18 turnovers, but a key for UNM was taking care of the ball down the stretch. Wyoming had 23 turnovers. Both teams had 12 steals. UNM shot 43.3 percent from the field.
"We only have one guy make a three, but we find a way to win," said Alford. "All these (road) environments are so hard. Anytime you are in someone else's building in league play, it's difficult."
A Hobson bucket put UNM up 64-58 and a Hardeman dunk made it 66-60 with 3:23 to play. UNM got a break when Cowboy Luster missed two free throws with 1:16 to play and UNM up 67-64.
Wyoming got the ball back still down 67-64, when Hardeman took a charge that led to Martinez pushing UNM up 68-64. The Lobos tiptoed that four-point lead into the win.
Second Half - Lobos 42, Wyoming 39
The game remained a see-saw affair coming out of the 29-28 halftime score. When UNM went up 51-49, it was the Lobos biggest lead of the game, up to that point. UNM stayed up 54-52 on an old-fashion 3-point play by Hobson.
At the 7:41 break, UNM was up 56-54 on a hook shot by Hardeman, his 15th point of the game. Wyoming tied it at 56-all and then UNM's McDonald scored out of transition to make it 58-56 for UNM.
The Lobos then drifted away about as much as you could in this game. A Brown dunk made it 60-58 and then Martinez scored for UNM to push the Lobos up 62-58.
A Wyoming turnover led to a Hobson bucket and a 64-58 Lobo lead. A six-point lead was looking huge in this rock-`n-roll game. A Hardeman dunk kept UNM up 66-60 with 3:23 to go. The clock was beginning to be a factor.
A.J. Hardeman 18
Darington Hobson 15
Phillip McDonald 15
Roman Martinez 7
Jamal Fenton 6
Will Brown 4
Dairese Gary 3
Nate Garth 2
Wyoming cut UNM's lead to 66-62 and Alford called a timeout with 2:28 to play. Hardeman fouled Muojeke, he converted, and Wyoming was down 66-64 with less than two minutes to play. UNM worked the shot clock down to 11 seconds and called timeout with 1:38 to play.
UNM came out of its huddle and Hobson went to the line looking at two shots with 1:31 to go. Hobson made one: 67-64. Wyoming needed a trey to tie, but instead JayDee Luster went to the line looking at two. He missed them both to go 0-for-5 at the line for the game.
UNM missed on offense, but Hardeman picked up a charge at the other end. Wyoming quickly fouled Martinez and sent the senior to the line with 30.8 seconds to go. Martinez made one: 68-64.
Wyoming missed on a drive. Hardeman got the board and was fouled. He made one: 69-64, with 22 seconds to play. The Cowboys got a layup from Amath M'Baye: 69-66.
Wyoming sent Hobson to the line with seven seconds to play. The junior made one to form a 70-66 UNM lead and that was enough to hold on for the 70-68 final.
First Half - Wyoming 29, Lobos 28
Turnovers were a big stat of the first half. However, since both the Lobos and the Cowboys had 11 each, that stat balanced out. Hardeman led UNM with eight points and four rebounds. The Lobos led 8-7 and 28-27, but trailed by a point at the break.
At the first break of the game, Wyoming was up 7-6, the `Pokes last bucket a 3-pointer by JayDee Luster. Wyoming came out of the break and jumped up 13-8 and then 15-10. The Cowboys took that 15-10 lead into the second break at 11:09.
Most of the game stats were pretty even at that point with UNM shooting 41.7 percent and Wyoming shooting 46.2 percent. The Cowboys and the Lobo were both looking for up-tempo opportunities and both teams were hurting themselves with turnovers.
The Lobos' seventh turnover led to Wyoming's largest lead at 18-12. A Hardeman turnover then made it 20-12 and Alford called a 30-second timeout. Fenton came out and flipped in a running jumper to cut Wyoming's lead to 18-14.
UNM got a putback from Martinez to make it 21-16. Wyoming called a timeout, probably to talk over the zone defense that UNM had slipped into. Afam Muojeke hit a jumper to up Wyoming to a 23-16. McDonald followed that with a jumper and at the 6:41 break, the Cowboys were up 23-18.
Hardeman threw in a bank shot that found the hole and cut Wyoming's lead to 23-20. Fenton went to the line for a one-and-one at the 5:17 and made them both to pull the Lobos to 23-22. At the 3:49 break, UNM was down 25-22.
Lobo Curtis Dennis came out of that huddle and missed the front end of a one-and-one. Wyoming turned the ball over and Hardeman followed a Martinez miss to make it 25-24. Muojeke made two free throws and Wyoming was back up 27-24.
Hobson threw in a reverse layup to make it 27-26. Wyoming turned the ball over on a charge picked up by Hardeman. It was Wyoming's third charge of the game on the `Pokes' aggressive drives to the basket. That turnover led to Garth at the line for UNM. The Lobo sophomore made both free shots and UNM was up 28-27.
Wyoming got the lead back quickly on an inside bucket by Adam Waddell: 29-28. UNM got its 11th turnover of the half and Wyoming worked for a final shot over the Lobo zone. The Cowboys failed to score and Wyoming's 29-28 lead held up for the halftime count.