Jan. 1, 2010
Friday: Lobos 68, Dayton 66
Tuesday: Lobos at San Diego State, 8:30 p.m.
On The Air: The Mtn.; 770-AM KKOB / Lobo Radio Network.
Online: GameTracker, game story, stats on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobos' three upperclassmen combined for 50 points as the Lobos slipped past the Flyers in front of a sold-out Pit of 14,586. UNM raised its record to 14-1 going into the Mountain West Conference wars that begin Tuesday at San Diego State.
"I think in a game like this, you have to have all three play well and they all three played well," said Lobo coach Steve Alford. "They just come up with big play after big play."
The game wasn't exactly as close as the final gap of two points indicated as Dayton (10-3) threw up some late 3-point bombs and even hit a long trey at the buzzer. But the Lobos didn't run away and hide from the athletic Flyers either.
The Lobos biggest lead in the second half was 59-51 with 4:02 to play. That bucket was a monster slam by A.J. Hardeman coming off a pass from Hobson, who was working at the point. "That was amazing," said Martinez of the sky jam. "That changed the aspect of the game. It made a statement. He dunked the ball like I've never seen A.J. dunk the ball."
Martinez made a couple of huge statements for the Lobos, too. Dayton had finally scratched out of its 29-23 halftime hole and into a 39-36 lead with 12:58 to play. Alford called a quick timeout and Martinez came out and banged in back-to-back treys to put UNM up 42-39. The Lobos never trailed again.
"At that point we needed some big shots," said Martinez, who scored 17 points, adding six rebounds and three steals.
Said Dayton coach Brian Gregory of Martinez's treys: "They were big. We take a three-point lead and then leave him alone in the corner which is hard to believe. He is a great college player. He is their motion maker and makes all the guys better. That's a unique trait from a non-guard position."
Gary led UNM with 18 points, going 12-of-15 from the line. Hobson had 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals. "I thought tonight we used (Hobson's) versatility better than ever before," said Alford. "I told the guys that season one (non-conference) is over and we're going to bank this 14-1 record. Now, we are 0-0."
The Lobos go into the 2010 MWC race picked to finish fifth in the league's pre-season poll. But UNM is one of the defending regular-season conference champs and will enter the league wars with the MWC's best record and the highest ranking.
The Lobos' rugged non-conference schedule has the young Lobos well prepared for what lies ahead. Dayton came into The Pit with a 10-2 mark with the two blemishes coming from Top 20 teams.
Dairese Gary - 18
Roman Martinez - 17
Darington Hobson - 15
A.J. Hardeman - 8
Phillip McDonald - 3
Chad Adams - 3
Will Brown - 2
Jamal Fenton - 1
Nate Garth - 1
"That was a very physical game," said Martinez. "They (Dayton) have great talent and they play very, very hard. It was a great run (14-1), but now we have to focus on conference. It's zero-zero (0-0)."
The Lobos shot 55 percent in the second half against Dayton, which was probably a good thing considering the Flyers won the battle of the boards (43-32) and the turnover battle (16 for Dayton, 19 for UNM). "Those are two big, bad things we did, but we still found a way to win," said Alford.
Defense also was a path to UNM's victory. Dayton shot 25 percent in the first half and 33.9 percent for the game. The Flyers were 24.2 percent from the 3-point line with that stat fattened considerably with some last-minute heroics from behind the line.
Dayton was 1-of-14 from 3-point range in the first half. The Flyers were paced by Chris Johnson, who scored 21, going 5-of-10 from behind the line. Johnson hit four 3-pointers in the final two minutes of play to make the score look scarier than it was. UNM was up by seven with 26 seconds to play.
"This is a high-quality team, very efficient on offense," said Dayton's Gregory of the Lobos. "Those guys really understand how to play and really play together."
Second Half - Dayton 43, Lobos 39
At the first media break of the second half at 15:52, the Lobos' six-point halftime lead had been carved down to a digit: 34-33. UNM got a layup from McDonald after a Hobson steal and a lead pass. Martinez got an old fashion 3-point play on a baseline drive and a foul. The Flyers did damage with two 3-pointers to help form their 34-33 deficit.
Hobson pushed UNM up 36-33 with a drive, jump stop and a short jumper. Gary turned it over leading to a dunk by London Warren: 36-35. Another UNM turnover led to another Warren hoop and the Flyers had the lead at 37-36.
UNM's Nate Garth forced up a shot trying to beat the shot clock and Dayton got an uncontested dunk in transition from Chris Wright. The Flyers' 39-36 lead convinced Alford to call a timeout.
The play was fast becoming more physical. Hobson drove the lane to score with his left hand: 46-42. Dayton's Kurt Huelsman made a free shot to cut it to 46-43. Hobson hit a 15-footer off the baseline: 48-43. Hobson head faked and drove the baseline and got hammered going into the media break at 7:29. UNM was up 48-43 with Hobson going to the line.
Hobson made both his free throws, but Dayton's Marcus Johnson came down to gun in a trey: 50-46. Gary drove and was held on a jumper, but regained control of the ball in time to flip in a jumper. He added the free throw and UNM was up 53-46.
Fenton went to the line at 5:59 looking at two shots. He made one: 54-48. Dayton turned the ball over and Martinez was held coming off a screen and went to the line with 5:27 to play. The senior made one: 55-48.
Hardeman then threw down some big points for the Lobos. He scored on a spin move inside the lane to make it 57-50. He then hammered down a monster dunk off a nifty pass by Hobson. UNM went up 59-51 and Dayton called a timeout with 3:56 to play. At the 2:46 break, UNM was still guarding that 59-51 lead -- up eight heading to the wire.
The Flyers were hanging around, but still having problems shooting over the Lobos. Dayton was 9-of-25 in the half at that point -- 36 percent. UNM was firing at a 57.9 clip. Dayton was making up for its shooting with better numbers in rebounding and turnovers than the Lobos.
Dayton got a long, baseline trey from Wright: 59-55. Gary went to the line at 1:53 and made both free ones: 61-55. Dayton missed at its end and McDonald was looking at two free shots with 1:08 to play. He made one: 62-55. Dayton called time with 1:04 to play. The Flyers came out of their huddle and Johnson tossed in a long trey to make it 62-58. Dayton called a timeout with 52.6 to play. Dayton likely would be going for a quick steal followed by a quick foul.
The foul came at 51.5 sending Gary to the line shooting two. He was short on the first shot, but rattled in the second: 63-58. Dayton missed long and Gary was back at the line with 36.8 to go. He made one: 64-58. Dayton came down and threw up an air ball. Garth was fouled and made a single shot: 65-58. Dayton's Johnson then drilled another trey to pull the Flyers to 65-61 with 17.4 to play. Dayton called time and came out of the break to send Gary to the line with no time rolling off the clock. The junior dropped both free ones: 67-61.
Dayton scored in close: 67-63. Gary was back at the line with 5.8 to play. He made one: 68-63. Johnson hit a long trey at the buzzer to form the 68-66 final.
First Half -- Lobos 29, Dayton 23
The Lobos jumped up 11-3 early thanks to a combination of nasty Lobo defense and nasty shooting by Dayton. The Flyers rallied to tie the score at 21-all before UNM slipped into that six-point halftime cushion.
Dayton probably didn't feel too badly being down six at the half. It could have been a lot worse. The Flyers ended the first half going 1-of-14 from the 3-point line and 25 percent overall. UNM shot 40 percent with eight point from Gary, seven from Hobson and seven from Martinez. Dayton was up 23-16 on the boards.
The Flyers seemed bothered by the packed Pit's energy from the get-go. Dayton's first two shots were air balls and UNM rolled to a 5-1 lead. Dayton's next shot was an air ball. The Flyers finally jacked in a jumper and were down 5-3. Not bad, concerning their rocky start.
Gary pushed UNM to 7-3 on one of his patented power drives. He hung, pumped, scored with his left hand and was hammered. He came out of the break to get his sixth point of the game and advance his Lobos to an 8-3 bulge. Martinez then plucked a Dayton pass out of the air with his left hand. He passed to Hobson, who gave it back to Martinez on the right wing. The Lobo threw up a long trey, not exactly set on the shot. The shot kissed off the backboard and into the hole. Martinez shook his head as the scoreboard moved to 11-3.
At the 11:37 media break, Hobson pushed UNM up 13-5. The Lobo junior brought the ball down and then drove into traffic to flip in a left-handed layup. At that break, Dayton was shooting 12.5 percent from the field to 44.4 percent for UNM. The Flyers had five turnovers to one for the Lobos.
The Flyers' defense was OK early, take away too many reaching fouls. Dayton just wasn't executing on offense against UNM's tenacious defense. The Flyers' quickness finally helped put some numbers on their side of the scoreboard. At the 6:51 timeout, UNM was up 15-10. UNM's lone basket since the 11:37 break was a short jumper from Chad Adams off a Jamal Fenton feed.
Dayton continued to make little cuts into the UNM lead. Martinez tipped in a Nate Garth miss to push UNM up 19-14. Chris Johnson banged in Dayton's first trey of the game to make it 19-17 going into the 3:46 media break. The Flyers were 1-of-11 from the 3-point line and 26.1 percent overall. UNM's shooting percentage had dropped to 37.5 percent. The Lobos also had a single trey at that point -- 1-of-3, off Martinez's long bank shot.
Gary put UNM up 21-17 at 3:15,hitting two free throws after being held on a drive. Chris Wright got those points back at the line for Dayton at 2:27: 21-19. Wright was fouled by Martinez on an alley-oop pass and tied the game 21-all with 1:58 to play.
Hobson got The Pit standing with a 3-pointer from the baseline off a Garth feed: 24-21. The Flyers missed another trey and Hobson was fouled on a drive with 1:18 to play. The junior made both free shots: 26-21. Wright scored on a power spin in the paint to make it 26-23 in UNM's favor.
The Lobos missed at their end, but Hobson dove through a Flyers' leg to create a jump ball that went to UNM with 46.8 to play. That led to a Hobson drive, a Hobson pass to Will Brown, a Brown dunk. UNM was up 28-23. Dayton missed and Adams was fouled with a half second to play. He made one to form the 29-23 halftime count in favor of UNM.