Dec. 10, 2008
Wednesday: Lobos 57, San Diego 54
Up Next: Lobos vs. Ole Miss, 2 p.m. Saturday, The Pit
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
SAN DIEGO -- Maybe Lobo Daniel Faris really doesn't have to score many points to be a senior hero for the University of New Mexico Lobos. Well, at least that was the case Wednesday night in San Diego as the 6-foot-9 center had a career-high 13 rebounds and a career-high six blocks and possibly a career-best effort on defense in UNM's 57-54 win over the San Diego Toreros.
"I thought Daniel was terrific," said Lobos coach Steve Alford. "I thought he was the key to the game tonight, the way he took out (Gyno) Pomare, to hold him to two field goals."
The game wasn't exactly a thing of offensive beauty down the stretch as the Lobos scored only two field goals in the final 8:33 of play and the Toreros didn't score any. "It was a difficult game," said Alford. "The flow of the game was kind of odd."
Pomare went into the game as the Toreros leading scorer with a 14-point average, but didn't score his second field goal until there was 8:55 to play in the game. It seemed everytime the Toreros senior turned around, he was looking into the face of UNM's Faris, who scored only six points.
Actually, that became a bad thing with 21.8 seconds to play when Faris pulled down a key rebound in a crowd after USD missed a trey. Bodies banged, elbows were thrown, Pomare and Faris exchanged words and the refs called a double technical foul on the two centers. Alford then made a comment on the call and the Lobo coach also got slapped with a technical.
When a personal foul was thrown into the mess, the teams were looking at four fouls called with 21.8 seconds to play. The end result was USD getting two free throws off the Alford technical (made one) and the game was resumed with Faris standing at the line looking at a one-and-one. He threw up an air ball and USD came out of the mess with the ball and enough time to work for a game-tying trey.
Instead, USD worked the ball inside to Pomare, who missed off the glass over UNM's Roman Martinez. The rebound became a jump ball and the possession arrow pointed to the home team with 6.8 seconds to go. The clock now demanded a trey. USD's Matt Door rolled off a pick at the top of the key and threw up a 26-footer that hit the front of the rim. Game over.
"I'm very pleased with the win," said Alford. "I'm just not pleased with our performance. I didn't think that was Lobo basketball. We weren't very smart and our effort on the backboard was really, really poor. But anytime you can go on the road at this level and get a road win, regardless of circumstances, you have to be at least pleased from that standpoint."
The Lobos were led in scoring by junior Roman Martinez with 12 points. Chad Toppert kicked in 11 points, Tony Danridge scored 10 and Dairese Gary had eight points. UNM held San Diego to 27.3 percent shooting from the floor. The Toreros shot 15-of-18 from the line and UNM was 8-of-11.
The Lobos were outrebounded 38-32 with the Toreros hauling down 20 on their offensive end. "The biggest eyesore is giving up 20 offensive rebounds to a team that isn't anywhere near as athletic or big as we're going to play in our league," said Alford. "Our biggest concern and fear right now is the backboard. That's gradually getting worse. It's a concern."
The Lobos held a 34-29 lead at the half and took their biggest lead of the game 46-36 on a Toppert trey. The Lobos then went cold against the San Diego zone and the Toreros hit some shots to cut UNM's lead to 48-46. Danridge threw down a left-handed dunk off the baseline to up UNM's lead to 50-46 and the teams scratched and clawed, but were unable to change that four-point UNM lead (54-50) going into a media timeout at 3:50.
The Lobos failed to protect the boards at 2:03 and USD's Chris Lewis was fouled after hauling down an offensive rebound. He hit two free throws to cut UNM's lead to 55-53. Danridge then missed a jumper at the elbow of the free-throw line, but USD had a shot-clock violation at the other end.
Toppert threw a head fake and got fouled with 38.7 seconds to go. He rattled in the first free throw and swished the second to make it 57-53. That was the score UNM and USD took into the mess with 21.8 seconds to play that ended in UNM's 57-54 win.
"This team needed to win a road game and we made it about as hard as we possibly could," said Alford. "It wasn't one of our smarter playing games. I thought we made plays at both ends that weren't real smart. But I'm very pleased with the win."
The Lobos take a 5-4 record into Saturday's 2 p.m. Pit game against Ole Miss.
The Lobos took an early 7-3 lead against the Toreros, but San Diego used the 3-point line to scratch out a 14-9 cushion. The Lobos took the lead back at the 8:17 mark when freshman Will Brown missed a layup but outfought the Toreros for the rebound. He then was fouled as he threw up an off-balance jumper that fell. Brown converted the free throw to put UNM up 18-17.
San Diego was up again at 25-20 before Martinez rolled in a long layup over the front of the rim, Toppert banged in a trey and Martinez added another trey to put the Lobos up 28-25. Martinez and Toppert finished the scoring for UNM in the half with treys to give the Lobos their 34-29 halftime lead. Martinez led the Lobos in the first 20 minutes with 10 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