Stevens: Lobos Drop 67-66 Heartbreaker As Wyoming Scores At Buzzer
Jan. 8, 2011
Lobo Men's Basketball - At Wyoming
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was really an impossible, off-balance shot that probably should have been blocked before it turned into a brick -- and probably should have been a Lobo rebound before it was ever a Wyoming shot.
But none of those things happened.
The buzzer-beater by Wyoming's Francisco Cruz was nothing-but-net magical as it handed the Cowboys a stunning 67-66 Mountain West Conference win over the New Mexico Lobos.
Cruz's shot was the third one the Cowboys got off in the final ten seconds and spoiled a gallant effort by UNM senior Dairese Gary, who had 24 points and six assists while carrying a team on his back.
Gary had pushed UNM up 66-65 by knocking down two free throws with 24 seconds to play. Wyoming came down looking for the win and started that quest with a Cruz trey that bounced out long and into the hands of Wyoming's Daylen Harrison.
Harrison took a baseline shot that looped over several Lobos and into Cruz's hands with about two seconds left on the clock. He looked to shoot at the peak of his jump, but the space above his shot line was congested by several Lobo hands. Cruz hung, floated,and came back down toward the floor - flipping up a high floater at the last possible moment.
The shot swished through the net and Cruz was mobbed by the Wyoming players. A quick look at the court monitor verified that Cruz's shot beat the gun.
"We give them three shots," said Lobo coach Steve Alford, who saw his Lobos drop to 12-4 overall and 0-1 in MWC play. "Those are loose balls you have to get. We didn't play well. It's the worst I've seen one of our teams play in a long time."
Gary was the only Lobo in double figures with 24. Drew Gordon and Chad Adams each had nine points. Lobos Phillip McDonald, Kendall Williams and Jamal Fenton combined to go 3-of-16 from the field. Freshman Alex Kirk scored eight points going 3-3 from the floor and the 6-foot-11 post hit a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 64-all with 57 seconds to play.
"We didn't make shots when we needed to and we couldn't get stops," said Alford. "We were definitely the softer team today and that's disappointing. Our team was too soft.
"I feel bad for Dairese. He gave it all he had; another terrific game." The loss ended UNM's seven-game MWC win streak on the road. It also ended UNM's 14-game MWC win streak.
The Lobos return to The Pit on Wednesday to play host to Colorado State and then entertain the undefeated San Diego State Aztecs on Saturday . The Aztecs stayed undefeated with a 71-62 win at Utah. BYU stayed 2-0 in the MWC with a 76-66 win over Air Force.
The Lobos shot 47.9 percent against Wyoming, not bad, but allowed the Cowboys to shoot at a 52.4 percent rate. Wyoming went 16-of-22 from the line and UNM shot 10-of-19 (52.6 percent). Wyoming got 17 points from Daylen Harrison, 16 from Adam Waddell and 15 from Desmar Jackson.
The Cowboys went into the half up 34-33, hitting a 3-pointer from the baseline to beat the gun. Gary led UNM in the first 20 minutes with 11 points. The game stayed tight through both halves. Gary continued to carry UNM in the second half. He popped in a trey from the top of the key to pull the Lobos to 55-53. UNM took a 56-55 lead when Chad Adams threw in a baseline 3-pointer.
The Cowboys went back up 57-56 when Waddall scored inside. At the 4:04 mark, Wyoming was up 59-58 when Hardeman fouled out on a hold on Waddall. The big Cowboy made both free shots: 61-58. UNM called time with 3:59 to go.
Waddall stayed hot. This time on defense. He took a charge from Gary and Wyoming had the ball coming off the 3:52 media break. Wyoming looked inside to Waddall again and UNM's Kirk was called for a hold. Waddall made a single free shot: 62-58 with 3:36 to play.
Gary collided with Wyoming's JayDee Luster on a pass out to Williams. Luster got called for a block and his fifth foul with 3:22 to play. Gary went to the line. He made both sides of the one-and-one: 62-60.
Wyoming's Harrison got fouled by Gordon at 2:48. Gordon went to the bench with five fouls and Harrison went to the line. He made both: 64-60. Gary then got fouled on a drive and made one: 64-61.
Wyoming's Jackson missed on a drive. The Lobos got another drive from Gary. He missed, but UNM got the board. UNM's Williams threw the ball away in traffic at 1:40. Wyoming turned down a nice look inside to Waddell and ended up with Jackson on a power drive. He missed with his left hand and UNM called time with 1:06 to play - down 64-61.
Probably everyone in Arena-Auditorium thought UNM would come out of the huddle and send Gary to the hoop on a power drive. Wrong. Instead, Kirk popped out and launched a long trey from the top of the key. Swish. UNM had the 64-all tie. Wyoming called time with 50.2 seconds to play.
Wyoming's Jackson drove, forced up a bad shot in traffic, but got the ball back on a hustle play, and was fouled. He made one: 65-64. UNM called time at 33.4.
UNM passed the ball around a bit, but Gary ended the possession with a drive. He got blocked and went to the line with 23.2 seconds to play. Hit both shots and UNM carried a 66-65 lead into the final seconds.
Wyoming, with Hardeman and Gordon on the bench, got the two offensive boards and the buzzer-beater by Cruz.