March 8, 2008
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Daniel Faris's 15 points and eight boards helped New Mexico pad its NCAA credentials Saturday with its 24th win, a 71-52 rout of the Colorado State Rams, who went winless in the Mountain West Conference.
Under first-year coach Steve Alford, the Lobos (24-7, 11-5) tied their school record for regular season wins set by Norm Ellenberger's 1977-78 team (24-3) and tied by Dave Bliss's team that went 24-4 in 1995-96.
The Lobos, winners of eight of their last nine, head to Las Vegas next week as the No. 3 seed in the Mountain West Conference tournament.
The Rams (6-24, 0-16), who extended their school record with their 17th straight loss, will face Wyoming in the play-in game Wednesday, still looking for their first win over a league opponent under first-year coach Tim Miles.
The Rams have some company in their misery: the women's team also finished without a win in league play, losing at New Mexico earlier Saturday.
Faris collected his points and rebounds in just 22 very efficient minutes. Chad Toppert added 14 points and J.R. Giddens had 13 for the Lobos, who took a 39-30 halftime lead that was never threatened in the second half.
The Rams hung tough until the three-minute mark of the first half, when the Lobos went on a 9-0 run to take control at 35-27. Darren Prentice and Jonathan Willis sank back-to-back 3-pointers during the spurt.
The Lobos closed the half on a 13-3 run with the Rams' only points coming from Stuart Creason, the lone Colorado State senior, who was honored in a pregame ceremony.
Creason, the Rams' 7-foot center, was injured chasing down a loose ball 19 seconds into the second half and he sat on the end of the bench in warmups, watching as the Lobos ran away with it.
Colorado State center Ronnie Aguilar, who returned from a foot injury that sidelined him for six games, also spent much of the second half as a spectator, working out on a stationary bicycle near the tunnel.
Rams guard Marcus Walker, the league's leading scorer, finished with just six points, 11 below his average. Josh Simmons was the Rams' leading scorer with 12 points despite making just one basket - he sank all 10 of his free throws.
After going 8-43 in road games over the previous five seasons, the Lobos (8-5) tied a school record with their eighth road win of the season.