STEVENS: Lobos & Phillip McDonald Toast Air Force Falcons 73-50
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/20/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 20, 2010

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Wednesday: Lobos 73, Air Force 50
Saturday: Colorado State at Lobos, 1:30 p.m., The Pit
On The Air: The Mtn. 770-AM KKOB / Lobo Radio Network
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By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

At halftime, you couldn't have blamed Lobo coach Steve Alford, if he glanced at the stats and looked around the locker room to make sure Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez hadn't missed the bus to Air Force.

Hobson: 0-of-2, no points. Martinez: 0-of-2, no points.

At the end of the game, you couldn't have blamed Alford, if he gave sophomore Phillip McDonald a huge hug and let him drive the bus back to Denver -- or do anything else McDonald wanted to do.

The talented Lobo wing threw in a career-high seven 3-pointers to pace the Lobos to a convincing 73-50 Mountain West Conference win over Air Force Wednesday night. McDonald toasted the Falcons' defense for 25 points, adding five rebounds and two assists to no turnovers.

"What wasn't pretty about that?" Alford said of the win, a season-low points for Air Force. "Phillip got us going. This is the way we have shot the basketball most of the year. When we shoot the ball like this we go from being a good team to being a really good team.

"But the thing I was most impressed with was how we guarded them tonight."


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    Air Force shot 36.2 percent from the field and 12.5 percent (3-of-24) from behind the line.

    McDonald wasn't the only Lobo to go "career" on the Falcons. Nate Garth had a career-high four 3-pointers and Will Brown had a career-high seven rebounds. McDonald was joined in double figures by Garth with 12 points and Dairese Gary with 10 points.

    "I felt like I was shooting at a wide-open hole," said McDonald. "I got in a rhythm. I got hot and my teammates found me on the perimeter."

    UNM went 13-of-27 from 3-point range. McDonald and Garth combined to go 11-of-14 from behind the arc. Hobson finished with four points and Martinez had three points, but their touch wasn't needed with McDonald burning the Falcons from all over the court.

    The Lobos scratched out of an early 6-0 hole, ran to a 31-24 halftime lead, and raised their season mark to 17-3. The Lobos, on a three-game win streak, stand 3-2 in league games going into Saturday's 1:30 p.m. tip in The Pit with Colorado State. Air Force dropped to 8-9 and 0-4 in MWC play.

    "We know Saturday afternoon we are going to have a great game ahead of us," said Alford. "Each game gets bigger and bigger and we're going to have a huge game on Saturday."

    Said McDonald: "I think Colorado State is having a good conference season. We have to get a win against them to set us up for BYU. We have to make sure we play hard against them. They have a good team."

    It was a curious first half for the Lobos as they got no points from their two leading scorers, Hobson and Martinez, but were up by seven points thanks to 11 first-half points from McDonald.

    The Lobos opened the second half with two quick treys by McDonald, inside buckets from Hobson and A.J. Hardeman, and stretched that halftime bulge into a 41-28 lead.

    "I thought a key was the start of the second half," said Alford. "We took it from seven to 14 pretty quickly. We got them in a track meet in the second half and I don't think that's what they wanted."

    McDonald, with the hot hand, turned down an open trey to feed Gary for an open trey. Gary banged in his first 3-pointer of the game and UNM was up 44-28 -- 16 points. Martinez got his first, and only, points of the game, a trey, to hand UNM a 50-32 lead. The Lobos coasted in for the 23-point MWC win.

    The Lobos shot 47.2 percent from the floor and 48.1 percent from 3-point range. UNM had only nine turnovers and outrebounded Air Force 38-to-29. Air Force got 16 points from Evan Washington and 10 apiece from Michael Lyons and Derek Brooks.

    "Darington and Ro and A.J. never got in rhythm tonight," said Alford. "You got to go to your bench and we got 25 points out of our bench. I thought our bench was very good."

    First Half -- Lobos 31, Air Force 24

    The Lobos had to fight out of a small 6-0 hole to scratch into their seven-point halftime lead. The Lobos got no points in the first 20 minutes from their two leading scorers, Hobson and Martinez, but got 11 points from McDonald.

    An 8-0 run in the first half pushed UNM up 22-15 and a short 6-0 run gave UNM a 31-21 lead.

    Will Brown - 7 rebounds

    The Air Force Princeton offense struck first and quickly as Evan Washington went backdoor for a layup. The Falcons then got two free throws from Michael Lyons to go up 4-0. The Lobos were hurt early by turnovers and missed shots. A Lobo turnover led to a Lyons' layup and a 6-0 Air Force lead.

    The Lobos finally cracked the scoreboard at 15:44 on a trey by Garth. Another trey by McDonald pulled UNM into a 6-all tie. The Lobos then played catch-up with the Falcons for a while. A Brown dunk made it 8-8 and a McDonald tip made it 10-all.

    A couple of Hardeman free shots at 12:06 gave UNM its first lead at 14-13. The Lobos took that lead into the media break at 11:52. Air Force got a layup from Lyons to go up 15-14 before UNM threw out its 8-0 run on buckets from Gary, Curtis Dennis and Brown to jump into a 22-15 lead.

    McDonald threw in a 3-pointer to up UNM to 25-17 and Air Force called a 30-second timeout. The Falcons got two free shots from Derek Brooks: 25-19. Brooks then slipped loose for a layup, Air Force pulled to 25-21, and Alford called a timeout.

    The coach's chat seemed to work. UNM came out and threw out a 6-0 run to grab a 31-21 lead. UNM slipped into halftime holding a 31-24 lead.

    The Lobos shot 36 from the floor in the first half, 4-of-12 from behind the line. Air Force shot 31.8 percents, 1-of-11 from 3-point range. The Falcons had eight turnovers to four for the Lobos.