Stevens: Lobos Advance To Play George Mason In Paradise Jam
Nov. 16, 2012
New Mexico vs. George Mason - Uconn vs. Quinnipiac in Paradise Jam Final Four
Sunday: 4:05 p.m.; Lobos vs. George Mason -- 770-AM; CBS Sports Network
And then there were four..... in the winners' bracket.
The New Mexico Lobos powered into the Final Four of the Paradise Jam Tournament being held in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Lobos battle George Mason at 4:05 p.m. (MT) Sunday for the right to play the survivor of the Connecticut vs. Quinnipiac semifinal. The games are on CBS Sports Network.
Here are the first-round game summaries of UNM's foe and possible foes:
George Mason 52, Mercer 49
In the tropics, the Patriots went cold - but only for a half. George Mason was able to overcome a dismal 28 percent shooting touch in the first half to rally for the win. The Patriots were led by Johnny Williams' double-double of 16 points, 10 boards.
The Patriots are members of the Colonial Athletic Association, and they are 2-1 on the season, having defeated Virginia (63-59) and Mercer (52-49) and losing to Bucknell (61-56). The Patriots went 24-9 last year. They are led by Sherrod Wright, who is averaging 15. 0 points per game, and Johnny Williams at 10.7. George Mason went 0-of-8 from 3-point range vs. Mercer.
Connecticut 77, Wake Forest 71
The UConn Huskies are the only ranked team in the field and therefore the unofficial tournament favorite. They play Quinnipiac, surely a dark horse and probably an unknown to the average basketball fan.
UConn beat Wake Forest with balanced scoring that saw four players in double digits: (Ryan Boatright, 16; Shabazz Napier, 16; Deandre Daniels, 12; and Enosch Wolf, 12. UConn won the Paradise Jam back in 2008, a season that ended with a trip to the NCAA Final Four.
Quinnipiac 98, Iona 92 (OT)
Is Quinnipiac a hockey school? You go to the Quinnipiac athletic website and the top two stories are on men's and women's ice hockey. But the Bobcats did come up with a huge win in St. Thomas and have the chance to run with UConn on national TV. You might not think the Bobcats, also from Connecticut, can run with UConn, but they did beat Iona
"It's a great opportunity for Quinnipiac to play against a team as storied as UConn," said head coach Tom Moore. "We tried to treat this trip as a chance to promote the Quinnipiac name, and I think playing on national television against a team like this will help that." The Bobcats have five players in double figures including 21 points and 10 boards from Ike Azotam and 17 points and 10 boards from Jamee Jackson. The Bobcats held Iona to 1-of-12 shooting (8.3 percent) in the added five minutes.
New Mexico Lobos Men's Basketball - Paradise Jam - U.S. Virgin Islands
Friday: New Mexico Lobos 66, Illinois-Chicago 59
Sunday: 4 p.m. (MT) Lobos vs. George Mason
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The New Mexico Lobos ran to a 14-point halftime lead and then held off a furious Illinois-Chicago rally to douse the Flames 66-59 Friday in the Paradise Jam held in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Lobos stay in the winners' bracket and will play George Mason on Sunday.
The Patriots (2-1) got past Mercer 52-49 on Friday in the Jam's opening game. George Mason's Johnny Williams had his first career double-double - 16 points and 10 boards - to help the Patriots advance to play the Lobos.
"They are very athletic and play very fast," said Lobo Coach Steve Alford of the Patriots. "They are a scary, very dangerous team."
George Mason also got 14 points from Sherrod Wright. The Patriots overcame a chilly 28 percent shooting in the first half by going 13-of-17 in the final 20 minutes (76.5 percent). The Patriots trailed by six points with about six minutes to play but a 7-0 run pushed George Mason into the lead. The Patriots won the game despite not making a 3-point basket.
"I thought UIC battled, but I thought our guys battled," said Alford. "We won by making five field goals in the (second) half.
"We just got a little chaotic offensively. I thought we got stagnant. In the second half, they made some good adjustments and got into us a little more (defensively) and I didn't think our guys handled it well.
"But, the last three minutes, we did what we had to do to win. It's a very good win. We are in the winners' bracket and that's a whole lot better than being in the bottom (losers' bracket)."
The Lobos were led by Williams with a career-high 23 points, Demetrius Walker with 13 points and nine boards each by Kirk and Hugh Greenwood. UNM shot 40.4 percent from the field and out rebounded UIC 39-32. Greenwood also had four assists.
"He's extremely important to us," said Alford of Greenwood. "Hugh is our stable guy."
UNM again used its aggressive attack to create fouls and go to the line - making 23-of-30 with Williams going 11-of-13 and Kirk going 5-of-8.
"That's something we take a lot of pride in" said Alford of his Lobos getting to the charity stripe. "We got to the line and we made them."
UIC shot 11 more field goals and made two more than the Lobos, but their long-range attack (9-of-26) doomed them to an 8-of-14 effort at the line. UIC was aided by 18 Lobo turnovers.
Second Half: Illinois-Chicago 36, New Mexico Lobos 29
The Lobos rolled to a Walker-paced 37-23 halftime lead and looked like they might cruise to an easy win. The Flames had other ideas.
UIC's Marc Brown hit a trey to make it 41-31 as the Flames continued to look for the trey to help get back into the game. A trey by Daniel Barnes at 13:17 cut UNM's lead to 43-36 - seven points.
At the 11:49 break, the Flames had burnt that lead down to five at 43-38. There was a shift in momentum - a 7-0 UIC run - but the Alford Lobos are known for kicking up the defensive intensity down the stretch.
The Lobos did throw out a nice defensive stretch. Josh Crittle scored inside for UIC at 11:28 and the Flames didn't reach the board again until the 7:53 mark. That pulled UIC to 48-42, still in the game. At the 7:30 break, it was still 48-42. UNM was shooting 27 percent from the floor.
UNM's Bairstow hit a bad stretch that put him on the bench. He had a shot blocked by Crittle and then went for some payback on the other end. Crittle got the bucket and Bairstow picked up his fifth foul. Crittle missed the free one: 50-46.
"Cam never got into rhythm," said Alford. "That hurt us. We had to play smaller than we wanted to."
UIC, down 50-46, had a chance to cut UNM's lead to two, but a Snell steal and layup by Williams pushed UNM to 52-46. At 4:15 it was 54-50 in UNM's favor. That score went into the media break at 3:57.
UNM's Kirk came out of the UNM huddle and missed two free throws. UIC's Gary Talton went to the line to tighten the score by two: 54-52 with 3:28 to play. Kirk got fouled on a rebound and again went to the line making one: 55-52. UIC called time at 2:54.
The Flames' rally fell apart after that. Kirk got a huge tip at 1:16 to extend UNM's lead to 57-52. Greenwood got a steal and added a free throw: 58-52. Talton went to the line at the :41 mark and hit two: 58-54. UIC called time.
The Flames came out pressing and got a steal off Williams that led to a Barnes' layup: 58-56. UIC again pressed and quickly fouled Williams. The Lobo came up clutch hitting both free shots at the :32 mark: 60-56.
UNM's Greenwood fouled Talton and, for UNM, the Flame picked a good time to miss both free shots. Kirk pretty much sealed the win with two free shots at :23 to make it 62-56. However, UIC opened the door for a miracle finish with a trey by Humes: 62-59. Williams was fouled with 10 seconds to go and needed one to create the final seal. He made two: 64-59.
Kirk mopped up at the free-throw line with 3.3 to play: 66-59, a seven-point win that was much closer than that score.
First Half: New Mexico Lobos 37, Illinois-Chicago 23
The Lobos used improved defense and the hot hand of Demetrius Walker to pull out of a tight 17-16 game and into a 14-point halftime lead. The Lobos got 13 points from Walker and 10 points from Kendall Williams.
UIC got off two more shots in the half, but a chilly 29 percent shooting helped throw UIC into that halftime hole. UNM went 4-of-6 from the line and UIC, shooting heavily from the perimeter, never reached the line. UNM won the board battle 22-16. The Lobos outscored UIC 14-6 in the paint. Greenwood had six boards and four assists for UNM.
The UIC middle opened up a bit near the halfway mark of the half when 6-foot-9 Josh Crittle went to the bench with his second foul.
UNM had some turnover problems early trying to go inside, but two 3-pointers by Snell and Williams handed them a 6-5 lead at the 15:51 media break. Williams added another five points to the UNM total and Barnes banged in back-to-back treys to form an 11-11 count at the 11:52 break.
At the 7:08 break, UNM nursed a 17-16 lead. UNM got six points off a Greenwood old-fashion trey and a Snell bomb. UNM then went up 22-16 off a layup by Walker at the 6:01 mark. That basket - and better defense - helped propel UNM to a 31-21 lead at the 3:09 mark. UIC was shooting 32 percent from the floor at that mark and UNM was at 45.8. Walker scored the last 11 UNM points.
Williams hit a jumper to push UNM up 33-21 and a Greenwood follow kept the Lobos up by 12: 35-23. A Kirk block led to a transition bucket for UNM by Walker and the Lobos had their biggest lead of the half at 37-23. That held up as the halftime count.