The Lobos’ devoted fan following was in full
night, with over six thousand UNM faithful making the trip to
Vegas and once
again turning the Thomas & Mack Center into “The Pit West”
“We didn’t talk about the crowd (before the
Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt. “I will tell you this. I felt
like I was in
The Pit and I was really disappointed."
Shyatt’s disappointment was likely with Cowboy
fans not his
team, which played its way back into the game after a poor first
The Lobos led 34-24 at halftime and looked to
be on their
way to a high-scoring win. But the Cowboys were able to slow the
game down in
the second half, putting the Lobos’ shooting in a deep freeze to
claw back into
UNM went 11 and a half minutes without a field
Wyoming cut the Lobos advantage during that time, reducing the
lead to 36-33
with 14:50 left in the game and holding the Lobos in that limbo
until UNM made
a 6-0 run fueled by a Cameron Bairstow’s jumper and free throw and
capped by a
trio of Tony Snell made free
with 8:41 left in the game.
The Lobos then clamped down defensively,
allowing only six
points by the Cowboys the rest of the way to earn the win.
“I thought our guys were terrific tonight,”
said UNM head
coach Steve Alford. “ We really guarded the way we've been
guarding all year. I
think we made things hard on them. It became a very physical game,
guys have proven they don't mind physicality as part of the game.
thought we had a lot of good play.”
The Lobos shot 44.4% (12 of 27) in the first
half and hit 6
of 7 free throws in the first half to build their 10-point half
time lead. But
UNM was held to just 5 of 15 (33.3%) shooting in the second half
on the way to
finishing with 40.5% shooting (17- of 42) for the game.
But New Mexico did a number on Wyoming on the
allowing 32% shooting across the board – 8 of 25 in the first half
and 8 of 25 in
the second half for a total of 16 of 50 – with a paltry 6 of 23
performance from 3-point range.
UNM really excelled in the second half on the
line, shooting 22 freebies nad converting 15 for a 68% rate.
“We've emphasized that since day one,” said
Snell of the
team’s defense. “The offense is always going to be there. If you
defend a team, you won't win games.”
Snell scored a game high 15 points on 4 of 11
going 5 of 6 at the line. Cameron Bairstow added 12 of 14 points
in the second
half and also led UNM in rebounds with 8 boards.
The Lobos got scoring from all eight players
Wyoming was paced by Larry Nance, Jr. and
who each scored 14 points. Josh Adams added 12 points. Forward
Leonard Washington, who played with an injured back, scored just six
points on 3 of 7
shooting and had six rebounds before fouling out.
New Mexico improves to 27-5 and faces the
winner of the late
San Diego St.-Boise St. game in the semifinals Friday at 7 pm MT.
Wyoming finishes the tournament with a 19-13
for an invitation to a second or third-tier post-season