Stevens: Gutsy, No. 20 Lobos Grind Out 63-59 MW Win at Wyoming
Jan. 30, 2013
New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - On The Mountain West Road
Wednesday: New Mexico Lobos 63, Wyoming Cowboys 59
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
From Australia with love?
Well, maybe the message and the points delivered by New Mexico's Australian tandem of Cameron Bairstow and Hugh Greenwood wasn't all that loving to the Wyoming Cowboys. However, they did help sweeten the Lobos' drive to stay atop the Mountain West standings.
The two Lobos combined for 30 points as UNM held off the 3-point happy Wyoming Cowboys, 63-59, Wednesday night in Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium. The win keeps UNM (18-3) on top of the Mountain with a 5-1 mark. Wyoming plummets to 2-5 and closer to the NIT.
"I thought Hugh stepped up huge tonight with huge shots," said Lobo Coach Steve Alford. "I thought Cam really gave us a lift with how he shot the ball. This is a hard place to play. We knew this was going to be a struggle and a fight."
Greenwood hit the game-winning jumper with 7.4 seconds to play to push UNM up 61-59. Wyoming's Leonard Washington threw away an ensuing inbounds Hail Mary pass long, and Greenwood sealed the win by hitting both sides of a one-and-one.
"I just get more confidence as the game goes on that I'm going to make shots," said Greenwood.
Alford said he went into Laramie explaining to his Lobos the importance of winning where San Diego State lost.
"I thought this was a pivotal game for us if we were going to have something to say (about the 2013 MW championship)," said Alford. "This gives us a chance.
"We knew we could come in here and separate ourselves. We knew if we could give Wyoming its fifth loss and that would make it tough (on Wyoming's MW chances). We had a chance to make a statement tonight."
A statement obviously was made in the MW standings. UNM still had the lead by at least a game in the loss column. Another statement was made in the wake of UNM's loss at SDSU and the Lobos' dismal offensive showing.
The Lobos shot 48.1 percent in Laramie against a team that prides itself - and leans - on defense. The Lobos also went 11-of-14 from the line to 7-of-10 for Wyoming.
UNM got 17 points from Bairstow and 13 from Greenwood, who also turned in a double-double with 10 boards. Greenwood had four assists and no turnovers. UNM's 7-foot Alex Kirk had 10 points and six boards and Kendall Williams had 12 points, six boards and four assists.
Wyoming's preference in tempo allowed Alford to start his Twin Towers. That duo combined for 27 points. UNM also won the glass battle, 35-23. Bairstow had a career-high 32 minutes of playing time.
"We just did what we do," said Alford. "When you are on the road, with five minutes to go you want to be right there - and all the pressure goes to the home team. Our guys are just tough. They understand the moment and they took advantage of the moment."
The Cowboys actually held up to the pressure pretty good and kept knocking down treys to pull out of holes. Wyoming, which shot 19.5 percent from long range in its previous four games, went 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) from trey range. Derrious Gilmore went 5-of-7 from behind the line and Riley Grabau went 3-of-5.
Wyoming only made eight two-pointers. UNM had 23 two-points and only two treys. Wyoming shot 40.8 percent overall. The Lobos did a lot of things to form a romp in Laramie, but the Cowboys were deadly from long range and kept hanging around.
The Lobos guarded a 59-56 lead with 33 seconds to go, but UNM's Tony Snell failed to find an open teammate on an inbounds pass and Wyoming stole possession. The Cowboys missed a trey, got the board, and Grabau hit a trey with 15 seconds to go. The game was tied 59-all.
That led to Greenwood coming off a screen and hitting his game-winning jumper. The Cowboys had a lot of time with 7.4 ticks to go, but Washington went long and failed to find an open receiver. His pass went out of bounds, untouched.
"We held them to 40 percent shooting and under 60 points," said Alford. "I thought our two bigs (Bairstow-Kirk) presented a lot of problems. Both bigs got back to being physical. They did a really good job offensively and they battled their bigs."
Wyoming's Washington ended with 11 points and six boards, but only played nine minutes in the first half and did not score in that half. Alford said there was concern being down by a point at the half with Washington not scoring.
The Lobos next play Saturday in The Pit against Nevada.
Second Half: New Mexico 36, Wyoming 31
The Lobos fell back 30-27 to open the second half and then inched away from the Cowboys establishing a 52-43 lead at a timeout with 6:10 to play. Wyoming cut that gap to 52-48 at 4:23 and 54-50 at 2:47. Alford called a timeout. Kirk threw up a hook that handed UNM a much-needed 56-50 lead with 2:33 to play.
Wyoming made it an interesting run to the wire as Washington launched in a long trey to pull Wyoming to 56-53. Bairstow muscled in a shot underneath, got hammered and added the free throw: 59-53. Wyoming hit another trey, 59-56, and held UNM on the other end. Washington forced a trey, missed everything, and UNM had possession with 33 seconds to go.
Wyoming had to create a turnover or quickly foul. The Cowboys got the turnover as Snell failed to get the ball inbounds. Wyoming missed a trey, got the board, and Grabau hit a trey: 59-all.
The Lobos had possession with 15 ticks to go and Greenwood hit a jumper with 7.4 seconds to go and UNM had a 61-59 lead. UNM had only five team fouls and had a chance to chip at the Wyoming clock. They didn't need to. Wyoming's Washington brought the ball in, threw a long, ill-advised, Hail Mary pass, and threw the ball away.
The Cowboys quickly fouled Greenwood and he iced the game with both ends of a one-and-one. The Lobos got another big road win.
First Half:Wyoming 28, New Mexico 27
The Lobos held the lead most of the half, but Wyoming had the lead first and last. The Cowboys went up 5-0, fell behind 15-9, and hit an off-balance trey at the buzzer to capture their 28-27 halftime lead.
The Cowboys' Nance Jr. hit a trey to push Wyoming up 23-22, the `Pokes first lead since they were up 5-4. UNM was up 25-23 late, but gave up a dunk on a turnover and then Riley Grabau hit over good pressure by UNM's Williams to allow Wyoming to take a one-point lead into the locker room.
"I thought in the first-half we did a poor job with late-shot defense," said Alford. "They scored a lot inside 10 seconds. That's where they got their threes. We relaxed."
Both teams played good defense at times and both teams had some nice offensive thrusts. UNM shot 42.3 percent (11-of-26) in the first half and Wyoming shot 40.9 percent (9-of-22). The Cowboys, who had been struggling from the 3-point line over the past four games (19.5 percent), went 7-of-10 (70 percent). The Lobos dominated a good rebounding Wyoming team 20-10 on the glass and outscored Wyoming 14-4 in the paint.
Bairstow paced UNM with eight points and Kirk had five boards. Wyoming got nine points from Derrious Gilmore, who went 3-of-3 from trey range. Wyoming's Leonard Washington did not score in the first half and only played eight minutes nursing two fouls.