Stevens: Lobos Fall into 71-63 Trap at Colorado State
Feb. 21, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Men - On The Mountain West RoadTuesday: Colorado State Rams 71, New Mexico Lobos 63
Saturday:5 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos at TCU Horned Frogs
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The "trap game" that Steve Alfordalways warns his Lobos about snapped shut in a big way Tuesday night in Fort Collins, Colo., where the Colorado State Rams stung the No. 18 ranked New Mexico Lobos 71-63 in Mountain West action.
The Rams played small ball in attacking the Lobos off the dribble and came up with enough plays and enough big baskets down the stretch to snap UNM's seven-game win streak. The Lobos fall to 22-5 and 8-3 in the MW, but UNM still has a one-game lead with three regular-season games to play.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well," said Alford. "We knew this was going to be a difficult game and then it was a game in which we didn't shoot very well. It was a tough night for us, but those things happen in a very difficult league.
"It happens (on the road). We understand that. It wasn't an effort deal. Our kids battled, but we picked the wrong night to shoot the ball poorly."
The Lobos made several runs at CSU in the second half, but the gutsy Rams refused to crumble on their home court and now own a 13-1 mark in Moby Arena. UNM moves on to play at TCU on Saturday.
"They are undefeated at home (in conference play), too," said Alford of the Frogs. "We have to try and get a split and then hold serve at home. It's not over just because you get two games up. Now, we are one game up."
The Lobos never looked to be in rhythm on the Moby Arena floor. Kendall Williams scored 16 points for UNM, but was 3-of-13 from the field. Drew Gordon had 13 points, but only six boards which were neutralized by six turnovers. Demetrius Walker came off the bench to score 14 points. The Lobos got two points from Tony Snell and Hugh Greenwood had no points and no assists. Phillip McDonald and Jamal Fenton came off the bench to go 2-of-10 from the floor.
CSU got 17 points from Dorian Green, who went 8-of-8 from the line with several key free throws coming down the stretch. The Rams got a big game inside from Pierce Hornung, who was the best big man on the court on this night. He scored 13 points and hauled down 15 boards. CSU's Wes Eikmeier had 11 points.
"I thought Hornung was really good," said Alford. "I thought he was the difference in the game. He was just really, really active. They are so undersized that we thought we could take advantage of that in the paint. But we got beat inside. Their undersized kids really battled."
The Rams went 20-of-23 from the free-throw line with the only misses coming from Hornung. The line was a key area for CSU, especially with UNM having its worst shooting game in Mountain West play at 36.7 percent. The Rams shot 44.2 percent. UNM was 26 percent from long range at 6-of-23.
The Rams had nine steals to six for UNM and outscored the taller Lobos 30-24 in the paint. A lot of those inside buckets for CSU came from Rams attacking the rim off the dribble.
"That shouldn't have happened," Alford said of the inside scoring. "We weren't able to exploit the things that we were trying to exploit."
Second Half: Colorado State 41, New Mexico 34
At the 15:30 mark, the gap between the two teams had changed by only a point. The Lobos and Rams went into their huddles knotted at 36-all.
The Rams then made some big shots and a few big plays. Wes Eikmeier hit back-to-back treys, the second coming off a Lobo turnover, and CSU was up 43-36. Alford burned a 30-second time out.
Phillip McDonald came off the bench and hit a long trey and was fouled. He converted the four-point play and UNM pulled to 43-40. Williams was bumped on a drive and cut UNM's hole to 43-42 on two free throws. At the 11:22 break, CSU was up 46-44.
The Rams got a trey from Jesse Carr at 10:17 to go up 49-46. That score held at the 7:50 media break. UNM had 16 turnovers to 12 for CSU at that point. UNM was up on the boards 33-26.
The Rams continued to make just enough plays to stay ahead and at a 4:36 break, CSU was up 56-52. The Lobos last six points had come from the free-throw line.
At the 4:19 mark, Hornung went to the line looking at a one-and-one. CSU was 13-of-15 at the line at that point with the two misses coming from Hornung. He made them both: 58-52. UNM's McDonald missed a trey and CSU went inside to Hornung, who burned Gordon on a drive for a left-handed layup: 60-52 and Alford called for time.
The Lobos came out and worked the ball to Gordon who crashed into Kaipo Sabas as Gordon scored on the drive. Sabas got the foul and Gordon went to the line. He made the extra shot and UNM was down five points: 60-55 with 3:25 to go.
Green missed on a drive for CSU, but Williams turned the ball over for UNM at 2:53. Eikmeier missed on the drive for CSU, but Hornung got the follow: 62-55. Gordon scored inside for UNM: 62-57. CSU's Green went to the line with 2:05 to play and hit both shots: 64-57. UNM got an offensive board from Cameron Bairstow, who kicked out to Walker for a trey. UNM was down 64-60.
CSU called time with 1:42 to play, up four points. The Rams had to burn another time out at 1:23 when UNM trapped Green near the sideline. CSU threw up a bad shot, but Bairstow put a forearm in Hornung's back on the rebound. The Ram made one: 65-60 with 1:10 to go.
Fenton missed a trey for UNM. CSU got the board and the Lobos did not foul. Green drove the lane and flipped up a leaning left-handed layup that rolled in: 67-60. The Rams made a mistake allowing Williams to launch a trey. He hit it. The Lobos were down 67-63.
UNM fouled Green with 23.6 to go. He made both free shots: 69-63 with 32 ticks to go. UNM called a time out with 31 seconds to go. The Rams got the ball in and burned seven seconds off the clock before UNM fouled Green. Green made both shots from the line with 24 seconds to go: 69-63.
Williams missed a trey and Hornung got a dunk with seven seconds to play to form the 71-63 final.
The Lobos went 7:23 without a field goal at one stretch in the second half -- from the 10:48 mark to 3:25 mark. During that span, UNM missed five field goals and had four turnovers on consecutive possessions.
First Half: Colorado State 30, New Mexico 29
The first half in Fort Collins wasn't like the first half in The Pit where UNM basically had put the game away with a 47-29 lead. On the Rams' floor, it was the Lobos who totaled the 29 points, but the Rams were only a point up at 30.
The Rams and the Lobos were close in most first-half stats, except for bench points where UNM had 15 and CSU had four. Walker was the big spark off the bench with seven points and Fenton launched in a long three at the top of the key to beat the buzzer and form the 30-29 count. The Lobos got six field goals from their starters and six off the bench.
The Rams got nine points from Dorian Green and 10 boards from Pierce Hornung as CSU won the glass battle 20-19. Williams, Greenwood and Snell combined to go 2-for-11 from the field. The bad news was UNM was behind. The kind-of-good news was UNM was only behind by a point and playing badly.
The Lobos jumped up 4-2 on buckets by Gordon and Hardeman. The Rams took a 5-4 lead when good ball movement produced an open-look trey from Dorian Green. The Rams took a 7-4 lead into the first media break at 14:54 when Green scored on a backdoor layup.
The Lobos did not start this game off hot from the field. At the 11:33 break, the Lobos formed a 9-all tie off a short jumper and a 3-pointer by Adams. UNM was shooting 4-of-13 at that point.
CSU ran to an 18-11 lead before the Lobos used a couple of CSU mistakes to cut that gap to 18-15. CSU Coach Tim Miles called a time out. At the 7:48 media break, CSU was up 20-15.
The Rams slipped into a 22-15 lead before UNM's walker hit a quick-jump jumper and banged in a trey to make it 22-20. CSU took a 24-20 lead into the 3:41 break off a Hornung dunk.
CSU was up 30-26 with the clock ticking down when Fenton pulled up and hit his long trey to make the halftime count 30-29.