Lobos Handle Aggies In 200th Meeting, 83-69
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/19/2007
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 19, 2007

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Roman Martinez scored a career-high 24 points and Chad Toppert added 16, leading fired-up New Mexico to an 83-69 win in the 200th meeting with rival New Mexico State on Wednesday night.

Jamaal Smith had 12 points and Daniel Faris 10 for the Lobos (10-2), who avenged a 71-62 loss in Las Cruces earlier this month. The Aggies (5-8) are winless in six games away the Pan American Center.

Jonathan Gibson scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field for New Mexico State, while Justin Hawkins returned from a one-game absence because of a strained left hamstring and scored 18.

But this one was all New Mexico, which extended its lead in the series to 106-94. The attendance of 17,243 was the largest crowd at The Pit this season, and the Lobos drew on the energy in a high-intensity showdown.

New Mexico was outrebounded 44-28 in New Mexico State's earlier victory, and that statistic prompted New Mexico coach Steve Alford to tape a newspaper headline -- "Lobos Bullied" -- on each player's locker.

The tactic worked, as the Lobos finished with a 36-24 edge this time against the taller Aggies. It was a game of streaks, though, and that made things bumpy for New Mexico until the Lobos seized control midway through the second half.

New Mexico went without a field goal for a 9 1/2 -minute span on each side of halftime, then offset that shortage with seven straight baskets during a key second-half stretch, extending a 35-34 halftime lead to 69-54 with 7:04 remaining.

Toppert hit two 3-pointers and Darren Prentice got a layup to put the Lobos in control. Earlier, New Mexico used a 16-0 burst to open the second half after Hatila Passos made a layup to give the Aggies their final lead.

The Lobos led 51-36 with 13:32 to play after New Mexico State center Martin Iti was called for an intentional foul in the backcourt. Martinez made two free throws, and on the ensuing possession Smith hit a 3-pointer.

But it was a slugout for both teams, and things turned a little nasty late in the first half when Smith was fouled by Jahmar Young, then locked elbows with Hawkins, who pushed Smith and was whistled for a technical foul.

Smith made the ensuing one-and-one free throws, then Toppert hit the two technical foul shots to put the Lobos ahead 34-25.

The Aggies charged back, with Hawkins making two free throws and hitting a 3-pointer during a 9-0 run that tied it at 34.