Nov. 14, 2008
Friday: Lobos 102, SE Missouri St 59
Sunday: Lobos at Creighton, 1 p.m.
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was easy Friday night. Sunday, it gets hard.
The Steve Alford Lobos ran to a 102-59 romp Friday in The Pit over a mismatched Southeast Missouri State team. Sunday the Lobos become the enemy with an afternoon visit to Creighton, a game expected to bring in a gate close to 15,000. Not many of them pulling for the Lobos.
"They'll bring pressure and experience," Lobo Roman Martinez said of the Bluejays of the Missouri Valley Conference. "They are a great team. We can't let up. It's important for us to start well. It's a tough road game. We have to bring our A game."
The Lobos game Friday was close to A-plus. The Lobos romped and seemed to have a lot of fun in their 43-point win over the Red Hawks.
"It was a great opener for us," said Alford of his Lobos 1-0 start to the 2008-09 season. "I'm very, very pleased with the way the guys played."
The Lobos raced to a 46-31 halftime lead and, well, just kept racing. UNM had six players in double figures led by Tony Danridge with 16 and Chad Toppert with 14. The two seniors were followed by freshmen Phillip McDonald and A.J. Hardeman with 13 each.
Senior Daniel Faris kicked in 11 points and tied a career high with eight rebounds. J Martinez, a junior, added 10 points and 10 rebounds. UNM outrebounded the Red Hawks 49-to-33. Freshman point guard Nate Garth had seven assists.
"We won on the boards and that was a key for us," said Martinez."
The Hawks actually ran and shot themselves into a 16-13 lead before UNM pulled away with a more complete game. The Lobos were especially effective inside against the shorter Red Hawks, who had used some long-range bombs to slip into the lead.
"They took a couple of 26 footers that went in early," said Alford, noting that the Red Hawks' long shots started to fail them. "Our bench did a good job in the first half.
"They (freshmen) had a lot of fun. Their first game in The Pit, they scored over 100 points. That's always a nice atmosphere to have."
Alford also noted that the atmosphere will change come Sunday at Creighton. "We go to having 13,000 here for us to having 17,000 on Sunday against us," he said. "They (Creighton) play very well at home. Anytime you are picked to win that league, you are a pretty good team."
The Lobos put away the Red Hawks early in the second half by quickly stretching their 15-point halftime lead to a 56-32 bulge. It got worse for the visitors when back-to-back monster dunks by Danridge put the Lobos up 64-34. Game over. Time for Alford to work on his substitution patterns and try to keep his Lobos focused down the stretch of this mismatch. The easy romp over the Red Hawks also should help the Lobos have fresher legs for their Sunday run at Creighton.
It was a good night for most Lobos as the UNM depth, height, quickness -- and huge lead -- put the Red Hawks on their heels. With 11:25 to play, UNM was up 70-36. At that point, every Lobo had reached the scoreboard and all but two of the ten Lobos, who had played, were in the rebounding column.
At the 7:31 media timeout, it had gotten ugly. UNM was leading 85-45 with five Lobos in double figures. Would the Lobos reach the 100-point mark?
The century mark was hit at 1:20 when Garth rolled off a screen and swished a 15-footer to make it 100-56. Hardeman pushed UNM over that mark with a jumper to make it 102-56. The final was 102-59.
The Lobos 46-31 halftime lead took a little work and some nice substitution patterns by Alford.
The Red Hawks jumped to leads of 10-9 and 16-13 going to work behind the 3-point line to stay with the taller Lobos. UNM was 5-of-15 from the floor at the 11:56 mark and down by the 16-13 count.
The Lobos grabbed a 19-18 lead at 10:38 when Garth hit a long trey near the top of the key. A strong dunk by Hardeman put the Lobos up 23-20. That's when the Lobos began to drift away.
The Red Hawks had lived off the trey early in the half, but hurt themselves in the final 10 minutes by launching bombs that were either too long or too quick. Meanwhile, the Lobos were finding success inside.
UNM got a soft dunk by Hardeman at the 7:39 mark to put the Lobos up 26-20. The Hawks had missed five straight 3-pointers. Toppert and McDonald hit back-to-back treys and UNM was up 32-22.
The best shot of the half probably came off the hands of Danridge. He went up to haul down a 30-foot pass from point guard Dairese Gary, a pass that probably was too high for any Lobo but Danridge. The senior caught the ball with two hands, pivoted in the air and flipped a shot backward over his head. The ball bounced around a few times and fell into the hole. UNM 42-27.
The Lobos ended the first half shooting 15-of-28 for a 53.6 percentage. The Red Hawks were 9-of-24 and 5-of-14 from behind the line. The Hawks were 4-of-6 early in the first half. UNM outrebounded SEMS 18-to-13. Danridge and Martinez led UNM with eight points in the half.
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>/b>