Williams sparks New Mexico past San Diego 73-66
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)
Sixteen times he strode to the line and each time he knocked it down, setting a school record to help the Lobos beat San Diego 73-66.
''It's kind of the makeup of our team with our two big men,'' said Williams, who finished with 28 points. ''They're getting doubled, I'm getting open lanes, open shots, so I'm just being aggressive, still trying to finish some plays but if I can continue to get to the line, it's just as productive.''
Those big men, Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow, dominated inside. Kirk had his sixth double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds while adding four blocks and Bairstow had 16 points and two blocks in the closing minutes when the games was still in jeopardy.
''Alex and Cam are playing at a high level and Kendall was phenomenal,'' New Mexico coach Craig Neal said.
The trio needed to be at their best because no other Lobos contributed offensively until Hugh Greenwood knocked down a 3-pointer at the 8:16 mark of the second half.
And outside of Williams, Kirk and Bairstow, who combined to go 19-for-32, the rest of the Lobos went 2-for-17.
''We really need help with our perimeter shooting,'' Neal said. ''But I have to get somebody else to score. Somebody has to get us some bench points.''
But in this game, the Lobos (5-1) got just enough help to pull out the victory, which came down the final minute of play.
Eight of Williams' free throws came in the closing two minutes, helping New Mexico break out of a 61-61 all tie.
Johnny Dee scored 25 for the Toreros (7-2) and Duda Sanadze added 18 while Christopher Anderson had 12 assists.
Dee hit a 3-pointer with 2:05 left to tie it at 61 before Williams went on a streak of eight straight points that included six points from the line and a fastbreak dunk.
The Toreros used a 15-4 run midway through the first half to take their biggest lead at 27-15 but New Mexico closed the first half with a 17-3 run, taking its first lead at 32-30 with 3.5 seconds left when Kirk slammed home a missed shot.
Neither team took a lead of more than seven points in the second half.
''The difference in the game was New Mexico's ability to draw fouls and make the foul shots,'' said Toreros coach Bill Grier.
The Lobos went 26 of 29 from the line compared to 7 of 8 for San Diego.
''They got us in foul trouble,'' he said. ''That makes things so much more difficult to guard. Bairstow and Kirk put so much pressure in the paint. They're so physical.''