Stevens: Lobos, Williams Hold off Spartans 69-65
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/11/2014

New Mexico Lobos Basketball – On the Mountain West Road

Saturday:  New Mexico 69, San Jose State 65

Up Next: 7:05 p.m., Wednesday -- UNLV at New Mexico

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.

The New Mexico Lobos didn’t exactly match San Jose State 3-pointer for 3-pointer, but the Lobos might have matched the Spartans when it came to big 3-pointers in UNM’s 69-65 win Saturday night in San Jose, Calif.

The Lobos got some timely treys from Deshawn Delaney, Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood and used defense and more timely free throws to stay undefeated in the Mountain West race.

“All and all, it’s a win.  It’s not a pretty win, but it’s a win,” said coach Craig Neal. “Anytime you can start 3-0 in this conference and two of them come on the road, that’s really good.  It’s a nice start.

“We got a win off a team that could really shoot it and who shot the ball well and we didn’t play very well. It was a great team win.”

The Spartans went 11-of-32 from long range and UNM went 8-of-20, but New Mexico shot 7-of-10 from behind the line in the second half to stab at the SJSU defense from a somewhat unexpected distance.

The Lobos broke out of a 63-63 tie at the 1:30 mark and got five points down the stretch from Kendall Williams and a huge block from Cameron Bairstow with 37 second to play and San Jose State looking to take a 66-65 lead.

 “What can you say about Kendall Williams?” said Neal. “There was a lot of Kendall Williams tonight. There is a reason why he was (Mountain West) Player of the Year last year.”

Williams scored eight of UNM’s final nine points, but a huge plus for the Lobos in the closing seconds was forcing the Spartans into long and hurried outside bombs.

“At the end of the game, when they (SJSU) really needed (baskets), we locked down on defense and got a stop,” said Neal.

Williams led UNM with 19 points and also added seven assists and three steals. Bairstow had 15 points and Delaney had 12 points and went 3-of-4 from 3-point range.  Williams went 3-of-6 from long range.  Delaney had three steals and no turnovers.

“He just keeps working,” said Neal of Delaney’s play. “I thought he was terrific tonight.  He is exactly the player we thought he was going to be. It just takes some time.”

San Jose State got 24 points and eight boards from Jaleel Williams and 16 points from Rashad Muhammad. Williams went 6-of-10 from 3-point land and Muhammad went 3-of-8. SJSU's Williams had three assists and no turnovers.

Greenwood had a nice stat line for UNM with six points, seven boards, five assists and three steals.  Alex Kirk had nine points and seven boards. 

"We had to grind out another win," said UNM's Williams. "But a win is a win and we're happy about it.  It was a tough court to play on and it's always a battle to get a road win."

The Lobos went 15-of-27 from the free-throw line and SJSU went 6-of-9. The Lobos were up 28-25 at the half, but coach Neal said he was not happy with his team’s play in the first 20 minutes. Neal said he told his Lobos: “We don’t win championships and we don’t’ win big games when we play 'Me' basketball.

“I thought we played 'Me' basketball in the first half.”

The Spartans came out in the second half with five straight to go up 30-28. UNM then used a trey by Williams and two from Delaney to go up 37-33 at the 15:58 break. UNM stretched the lead to 41-36 before SJSU scored back-to-back buckets to pull to 41-40. UNM called a timeout.

The Spartans scored in transition to go up 42-41 with 11:47 to go. Williams hit two free throws to give UNM a  43-42 lead. The Spartans hit back-to-back treys to go up 48-42. UNM got two free throws from Bairstow and one from Williams to pull to 48-45 at the 9:33 mark.

Greenwood tied the game with a baseline trey and San Jose State called time at the 8:50 mark with the score knotted at 48-all.  Cunningham dropped in a soft dunk for the Spartans and that 50-48 count carried into the 7:47 break.

Bairstow used the line to make it 50-49.  Muhammad got fouled on a trey attempt and the line pushed SJSU into a 53-49 lead.  Delaney rolled to the top of the key and banged in his third trey: 53-52 in favor of SJSU.

At the 3:57 mark, the Lobos got a baseline trey from Greenwood and a layup from Bairstow, but SJSU still had a one-point lead at 58-57.  Delaney came out of the huddle and hit a free throw to tie the game at 58-58.

The Spartans went up 60-58, but UNM’s Williams hit a trey and two free throws to hand the Lobos a 63-60 lead with 1:59 to play. The Spartans’ Muhammad launched a long bomb at the top of the key trying to beat the clock and nailed it: 63-63.  UNM’s Williams put the Lobos up on a drive: 65-63.

 "That was a lucky one," said Williams of his shot that hung on the rim for a long moment before rolling in the right direction.

The Spartans called time with the clock at 39.5, still down 65-63.  SJSU ran off a few screens getting the ball to Williams at the baseline, but his shot was partially blocked by Bairstow.  SJSU had to foul Williams and he made one of two: 66-63 with 28.6 to play.

The Spartans had life but rushed a too-long trey and Williams was back at the line.  He made both shots: 68-63.  SJSU forced another trey and Kirk added one point more at the line: 69-63. The Spartans got a layup to form the 69-65 final.

"We stuck together and collectively we won that game," said UNM's Williams.

First Half: New Mexico 28, San Jose State 25

The Spartans did exactly what they were expected to do in the first half – shoot from the outside.  The Lobos did a little of that, too, but also got some inside muscle from Bairstow. San Jose State shot 18 treys and made five, which helped the Spartans stay close to the Lobos going into the halftime break.

The Spartans shot 29 percent overall to 36.1 percent for the Lobos, who got 11 points and five boards from Bairstow.  The Spartans got 11 points from Jaleel Williams.  UNM lost the board battle 24-21, but had only three turnovers to eight for the home team.  UNM went 1-of-10 from 3-point range in the half.

The Spartans hit two early treys to go up 6-2 but then UNM slowly inched ahead before SJSU again got hot from the trey and went up 18-15.  Neal hit a long jumper to pull the Lobos to 18-17 and Bairstow muscled out of a double team to give UNM a 19-18 lead.

Muhammad was fouled by Neal on a 3-pointer and made two shots to bring the Spartans a 20-19 lead with 5:05 to play.  Bairstow again showed his strength on a drive and it was the Lobos’ turn to go up by a point, 21-20.  Bairstow got a garbage bucket underneath and UNM carried a 23-20 lead into the 3:28 break.

Bairstow came out of the huddle to hit a single free throws to expand UNM’s lead to 24-20.  Kirk then banked in a jump hook: 26-20.  Delaney finished UNM’s scoring in the half with an explosive drive and SJSU hit a trey to close the gap to 28-25 at the half.