Lobos Top Aggies 84-78 in Overtime in Rio Grande Rivalry Thriller
Dec. 5, 2010
Lobo Men's Basketball
Saturday: Lobos 84, Aggies 78 in OT
By Chelsea Einerwold, Writer/GoLobos.com
Las Cruces, N.M. --- Just as predicted, the Rio Grande Rivalry between the Lobos and the Aggies was a wild and thrilling one with the Lobos coming out victorious, topping the Aggies 84-78 in overtime at the Pan American Center.
New Mexico improved to 6-1 overall, while New Mexico State dropped to 2-6.
This was the fourth straight win and second on the road for a young Lobo team. Head coach Steve Alford has been very pleased with the way his green players have responded to the recent challenges.
"For a young, inexperienced team, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the effort these guys are giving," said Alford in a post-game interview with Lobo Radio Network. "They're maturing quickly. They have two road wins over two really good teams, especially this team we played tonight."
Freshman Kendall Williams played especially well for UNM. The young Lobo guard finished with 18 points, nine of which came from behind the arc. Williams had a nose for the ball, adding six boards as well as dishing out four assists and snatching two steals.
"Kendall Williams is playing like a junior or senior," said Alford. "That kid is just doing amazing things."
Other newcomers making contributions included Alex Kirk, Tony Snell, Cameron Bairstow and Emmanuel Negedu. Kirk had seven points, six rebounds and one block in 22 minutes of play. Snell came off the bench to hit two key 3-pointers as well as sink a free throw for a total of seven points in 10 minutes. Bairstow chipped in two points and a rebound, and Negedu added six rebounds and one point.
"Our younger guys are doing a tremendous job, and I can't say enough about our upperclassmen," Alford said.
The Lobos were led by Dairese Gary who had 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals. The senior guard was 4-of-9 from the floor and made it to the free throw line 14 times, capitalizing on 11 of those opportunities.
"That kid is amazing," Alford said. "He has won 82 basketball games now. He does what he has to do to will his team to win.
"They [NMSU] wanted to pick us up full court, and I thought they did a really good job with their pressure. But, it's give and take. In 40 minutes of play Dairese has to bring the ball up against that kind of pressure and he fouls out both their point guards. You want to pick him up full--that's fine but you're going to get in foul trouble because that kid is that good."
The other shining Lobo veteran was Phillip McDonald. The junior guard posted his second career double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. McDonald was 6-for-12 shooting, including four 3-pointers and had two blocks.
"He's our best rebounder right now," Alford said. "He's also defending well. His presence and having him back in our lineup has been huge."
Junior A.J. Hardeman added 10 points.
Sharp-shooting by the Lobos was what secured the victory as the Lobos were outdone in rebounds and committed more turnovers than NMSU.
UNM had 40 rebounds to the Aggies' 45 and the Lobos turned the ball over 20 times compared to 13 miscues by NMSU.
As a team, UNM shot 50 percent from the field, hitting 25-of-50. The Aggies were held to 31 percent shooting, attempting 74 shots but only making 23.
"New Mexico State had their backs to the wall," Alford said. "They had lost five games in a row. They don't lose two home games in a row very often, so we knew we were going to get their best shot. For us to come out victorious speaks volumes of our team and I'm very proud of them."
NMSU was led by junior Troy Gillenwater who had a career-high 32 points. Hernst Laroche added 13 points and Tyrone Watson pulled down 14 rebounds in the Aggie effort.
The Lobos led by as much as 17 points in the first half due in part to an NMSU field goal drought that lasted over four and a half minutes, as well as three 3-point baskets from three different UNM players--Phillip McDonald, Kendall Williams and Tony Snell.
But that cushy lead was slowly chipped away by the Aggies who went on a 27-10 run in the nine and a half minutes leading up to halftime. After 20 minutes of play, the score was 42-37 with the Lobos' lead clipped to five.
The Aggies were first on the scoreboard in the second half with a Hernst Laroche 3-pointer, cutting UNM's lead to just two points. The Lobos responded by stringing together two Dairese Gary layups and another 3-pointer from McDonald to make the score 50-43 with 17:23 remaining in the second half.
Over the next two minutes, the Aggies eeked their way back to within one point on two buckets from Laroche and a jumper from Gillenwater. At 15:29 to go, the score was 50-49.
The two teams battled under the boards and exchanged baskets for the next seven and a half minutes. Thanks to a Kendall Williams four-point play off a 3-pointer and a free throw, the Lobos' lead crept back up to seven. With 8:01 left on the clock, it was Lobos 63, Aggies 56.
At 7:32 NMSU's Gordo Castillo hit a pair of free throws that ignited the Aggies to a 12-5 run. The 6-foot-5 senior guard hit a long jumper at 3:48 which gave the Aggie's their first lead of the second half, 69-68.
Following Castillo's shot, the Lobos called a 30-second timeout to regroup. Back in action, Williams drew a foul and hit two free throws putting UNM back in the lead 70-69 with just under three and a half minutes remaining.
Near the two-minute mark, a pair of Gary free throws put the Lobos up 72-69. However, back under the Aggies' basket Tyrone Watson secured an offensive rebound off an Aggie misfire and put it back in to bring NMSU back to within one, 72-71.
Following a made free throw by Gary, the Lobos were up 73-71 with 45 seconds remaining. In Aggie territory, Gillenwater missed a jumper and UNM's Williams grabbed the rebound and called a quick timeout.
With 20.9 seconds to go and a two point lead, the Lobos inbounded the ball to Gary. En route to UNM territory, Aggie Bandja Sy forced Gary to step on the sideline, turning possession over to NMSU with 18.2 left on the clock.
The Aggies inbounded the ball and worked it around, finding Castillo just inside the 3-point line. Castillo sank the shot, tying the game at 73-all with 5.9 left. UNM had one final shot before the buzzer--a solid 3-point look by Williams, but it rimmed out and the game spilled over into extra minutes.
NMSU won the tipoff, but it was the Lobos finding the basket first with a McDonald 3-pointer that put UNM up 76-73.
A pair of Gillenwater free throws and a layup by Sy pulled the Aggies ahead 77-76 with 2:26 remaining in the extra period, but the Aggies' second lead of the entire contest was short-lived as McDonald drained yet another 3-pointer at the 1:53 mark. His fourth trey of the night put the Lobos back on top, 79-77, and propelled UNM to the 84-78 victory.
The Lobos are off until next week Saturday, Dec. 11 when they face the Aggies again, this time at home in The Pit. Tipoff is at 7:02 p.m. with the game airing on The mtn.