Sophomore guard Kendall Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and continually frustrated Long Beach State star Casper Ware on defense to help fifth-seeded New Mexico move forward with a hard-fought 75-68 victory Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Men's basketball Tournament of the NCAA Tournament at the Rose Garden in Portland, Ore.
"We had a pretty good game plan for Cas," said Williams. "He's a great scorer, great player. But we have some athletic guys and we were able to drag out the screens a little bit. A little bit of it was just luck, him missing some shots down the stretch."
(28-6) move on to
Saturday afternoon's third round match up against fourth-seeded
Cardinals defeated Davidson 69-62 in the first game in
rain-soaked Portland on
"It's going to be fun," said freshman point guard Greenwood said. "Back to the drawing board. It's going to be a tough one."
Williams was also able to make his presence known on offense in the second half, making many of the crucial offensive plays UNM needed in the win.
"I just wanted
better shots and create opportunities," said Williams. "In the
first half I was
a little passive, this being my first tournament. Our coaches told us to get into the lane
and penetrate and
make plays," Williams said. "I saw a few openings, a few
opportunities and was able to make some pretty big shots down
The main story line of the game was how the Lobos would deal with Ware. Williams' length and speed obviously bothered Ware the entire afternoon. Ware, the Big West player of the year, was continually frustrated by Williams and at one point went over 24 minutes without hitting a basket.
"I hit them
They just didn't go in tonight," Ware said. "It's not like I've
hit them before. I hit plenty of those shots. Today they
wouldn't give me a
roll. When we went up by two, they just made more plays than we
Ware ended the game with 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting or Long Beach St., which ended the season at 25-9.
the 49er's fits all afternoon forcing their normally excellent
ball handlers to
cough it up for 15 turnovers. UNM did not help itself however,
turning the ball
over 14 times themselves – mostly in the first half and almost
the free throw line. The junior transfer would finish 6-of-8
from the charity
Senior forward Drew Gordon poured in 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Lobos – his 18th double-double of his college career - while facing a steady stream of double teams from the LBSU defense. With most of the 49ers' defensive efforts focused on Gordon, Williams came up with key shots late in the second half to frustrate Long Beach State.
While the Lobos
from 3-point range for the game, hitting only 7-of-21 from
beyond the arc, they
shot 50 percent (25-of-50) from the field and 75 percent from
the foul line
(18-of-24) keeping the 49ers at bay as LBSU made a run in the
UNM showcased a well-rounded offense as Greenwood added 12 points and junior Demetrius Walker contributed 11 points from off the bench, mostly in the first half.
Guard James Ennis and
forward T.J Robinson added 13 and 12 points respectively for the
finished with 28-of-65 (43.1%) shooting, hitting 8-of-14 (75%)
from the free
throw line but going just 4-of-16 (25%) on three-pointers – one
of the keys to
The game was tight from the get go. LBSU took an early 8-2 lead but UNM retaliated and took an 11-10 lead on a Gordon jumper just under the 12 minute mark. The ‘Niners would take the lead midway through the half but the Lobos fought back to tie the game at 27-27 on a pair of Walker free throws.
New Mexico finished the half on a 6-2 run to take a 33-29 lead into halftime
In the second
half, the two
teams battled back and forth but UNM eventually made a run
capped by a Phillip McDonald trey and a lay-in by Gordon to give the Lobos its
biggest lead of the
game, 51-43 with 11:57 left in the game.
But Long Beach St. would not go away, rallying to take back the lead on a fast break dunk by Ennis to give the 49ers a 62-21 lead at the 4;38 mark. But Williams answered with a trey on the next possession to take the lead back and Gordon pushed the lead further after a Ware missed free throw to give UNM a 64-61 bulge and LBSU would never gain the lead again in the game.
Long Beach St.
was able to
out-rebound the Lobos 36-31, including a 16-7 advantage on
gaining an advantage on second-chance points – at a tally of15-8
in favor of
But New Mexico's bench, one of the team's biggest strengths down the stretch in the regular season as well as in the Mountain West Tournament, outperformed the LBSU reserves 26-15.