Dec. 17, 2008
Wednesday: Lobos 66, Oral Roberts 63
Up Next: Lobos at Texas Tech, 11 a.m., Saturday
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Steve Alford student/athletes looked exactly like that two-part Lobo Wednesday night in The Pit.
For a half, the Lobos looked very much like students as they watched Oral Roberts run to a 37-25 halftime lead. For the second half, the Lobos looked like athletes as they muscled past the Golden Eagles for a nail-biting 66-63 win.
"This game's probably on me, more than it is on them. The first half, you could tell (it was finals week)," said Alford. "Their focus needed to be on academics and that's my fault. We won't play a game during finals' week again. Basketball should be secondary until we get to the weekend."
The test on the court was pretty much flunked by the Lobos in the first 20 minutes. No big deal. Alford had a few things to quietly say to his basketball students at the mid-game break and the Lobos came out jammed with new knowledge on how to beat the visiting Eagles.
Basically, the halftime cram session was advice on how to pick up the intensity, pick up the defense, get a few more boards. "I told them we had another 20 minutes to go," said Alford. "We really came out well."
The Lobos crawled out of a 12-point halftime deficit into a 41-39 lead and took less than five minutes to do it. But this game was a question mark until the buzzer. Oral Roberts led 56-52 with 7:03 to play and held its final lead at 61-60 with 2:27 to go. UNM led 64-63 with 30 seconds to play before sophomore Dairese Gary hit two free throws with 23 seconds to play to form the 66-63 final.
The win was UNM's fourth straight and pushed the Lobos to 7-4 on the season going into Saturday's game at Texas Tech. "I thought in the second half we did some really good things," said Alford. "A 13-board difference (24-11) in the second half is huge."
The Lobos got 20 points and six rebounds from Tony Danridge and 16 points from Daniel Faris. Roman Martinez had nine rebounds and Gary had nine assists and five steals. Golden Eagle Robert Jarvis had 22 points going 6-of-13 from 3-point range. The Lobos went 2-of-15 from behind the line with Chad Toppert going 0-for-6. Martinez was the only Lobo to hit a trey, going 2-of-5.
"We missed a lot of shots," said Alford. "Top (Toppert) isn't going to go 0-for-7 (overall) in very many games."
Oral Roberts had a chance to cut UNM's lead to one point with 11 seconds to go, but Marcus Lewis drove the lane and was stuffed by Faris. "It was all ball," said Faris, who said "getting stops on the defensive end" was a key to UNM's comeback -- which tied the second-biggest comeback ever in The Pit.
Another key for UNM was the 16-to-2 run the Lobos threw at Oral Roberts to open the second half.
"We needed a run and we just started concentrating," said Danridge. The UNM senior said he attacked the basket with aggression because his shots weren't falling. "When other shots don't fall, when jumpers don't go down, I have to be aggressive," he said.
Said Faris: "We were lucky enough to pull out a win because we dug ourselves a big hole."
The second half started almost perfect for UNM. A layup by Gary, a soft dunk by Danridge, an air ball by Golden Eagle Jarvis, a left-handed hook by Faris and the Lobos had cut their 12-point hole in half at 37-31. At 15:49, the game had a fresh start. Faris whirled and flipped in a left-handed hook to tie the game 39-all. A Faris 15-foot jumper gave the Lobos a short-lived 41-39 lead as Jarvis hit a 3-pointer to make it 42-41. No big deal. Faris did one of his duck-under moves in the paint to produce a layup and a 43-42 UNM lead.
The game had become a run-and-gun, pretty physical, see-saw affair. The Lobos took a blow at 13:51 when Faris was pulled to the UNM bench with his fourth foul. The 6-foot-9 senior had picked up his third foul about 20 seconds earlier on a push-off on the offensive boards. At the 11:40 media timeout, it was 45-43 in favor of the Eagles.
A.J. Hardeman got an old-fashioned 3-pointer to make it 49-48. Alford's lineup at that time featured his four freshmen and Toppert, a senior. At the 7:30 media timeout, the Golden Eagles were still clinging to a two-point lead, 52-50. Oral Roberts got a 3-pointer from Jarvis and UNM benefited from a baseline jumper from Hardeman.
Danridge banged in two free throws at 7:12 to cut Oral's lead to one at 53-52. UNM left Jarvis alone on the baseline and he drained another trey to make it 56-52. Danridge scored again for UNM. This time a baseline drive, a layup and foul followed by a free throw to cut the gap back to one digit at 56-55.
UNM held on defense and Gary floated a pass to a cutting Danridge. The pass was too low, but somehow Danridge hung in the air and flipped the ball into the hole. UNM, finally, had the lead at 57-56 and the Golden Eagles called a timeout.
Faris was inserted into the lineup at the break and came out to receive a pass from Phillip McDonald that led to an easy layup and a 59-56 UNM lead. Jarvis bombed another trey from the baseline and it was 59-59 at the 3:18 media timeout that marked the run to the wire. Danridge had 20 points at that mark; so did Jarvis.
UNM slipped back into the lead at 2:38 when Faris powered up under the basket, was fouled, and converted the second free throw to make it 60-59 UNM.
The Eagles went back up 61-60 on a spin move inside by Marcus Lewis. Faris got a tip at the other end and UNM was up 62-61. The Eagles had the ball with 1:27 to play and called a timeout with 26 seconds on the shot clock.
Jarvis came out of the break and launched a long trey from the top of the key that softly rolled over the front of the rim, kissed the backboard and rolled off the front of the rim. Toppert got the rebound and Alford called time at 1:08.
UNM brought the ball in and kicked it inside to Faris, who bumped into Golden Eagle Marcus Lewis. Lewis fell to the floor. No call either way and Faris threw in a short jumper to put the Lobos up 64-61. Jarvis came down, drove the lane and hit a six-foot jumper to make it 64-63 in favor of the home team. Jarvis quickly fouled Gary, who hit both free throws at 29.8 to push the Lobos up 66-63. Alford called a timeout.
The Golden Eagles came out of the break and worked the ball inside to Lewis. He drove to his left and Faris blocked his shot. UNM got the loose ball and Jonathan Wills was fouled with seven second to play. He missed both free shots, but Jarvis lost the ball coming down the court and the Golden Eagles failed to get off a desperation shot.
The Lobos had a few defensive and offensive issues in the first half. The Lobos shot only 32 percent from the floor and allowed Oral Roberts to hit at a 50 percent clip. The difference formed a 37-25 halftime lead for Oral Roberts.
Oral Roberts' Jarvis, who had eight first-half points, rolled off a high pick at the top of the key and rattled in a long 3-pointer that pushed Oral Roberts up 28-15. Oral extended its lead to 34-19 before a power drive by Danridge and a short jumper helped UNM cut its gap to 12 points at intermission. Danridge led the Lobos in scoring at the half with eight points.
Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner