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LAS CRUCES — 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 Saturday night.
UNM improved to 6-1 overall, while NMSU 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. “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 Lobo guard finished with 17 points, nine of which came from behind the 3-point arc.
Williams added six boards as well as dishing out four assists and snatching two steals.
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, meanwhile, 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, converting 11.
“They [NMSU] wanted to pick us up full court, and I thought they did a really good job with their pressure,” Alford said. “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.”
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 by NMSU.
As a team, UNM shot 50 percent from the field (25 of 50) while the Aggies were held to 31 percent shooting (23 of 74).
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.
In overtime, McDonald hit a 3-pointer that put UNM up 76-73. McDonald hit his second 3-pointer of the overtime period at the 1:53 mark. His fourth 3 of the night put the Lobos back on top, 79-77, and propelled UNM to the victory.
ALBUQUERQUE — The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team will be hosting Arizona at 7 p.m. tonight in The Pit.
Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on The Mtn.
The Lobos will be hosting Toys for Tots during the Arizona game tonight. Fans can bring in any unused or new toy and receive $4 tickets. Tuesday’s game is also sponsored by 92.3 KRST Country.
Arizona enters tonight’s game with a 5-2 record after losing to Nevada, 79-75 Thursday. The Wildcats’ only other loss came on Nov. 26 when they fell to Texas A&M, 87-78.
Arizona is led by senior Ify Ibekwe, who is averaging 15.6
Points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Junior Shanita Arnold leads the charge on offense, dishing out 6.2 assists per game. Meanwhile, Arizona’s Davellyn Whyte and Soana Lucet are both averaging double figures.