No. 10 New Mexico edges Colorado State
New Mexico coach Steve Alford doesn't see the Lobos' harrowing win
over Colorado State as a warning sign that his streaking team could
be in for a letdown.
Dairese Gary scored 23 points, Roman Martinez had 17 and No. 10 New Mexico beat the Rams 72-66 on Tuesday night for its 12th consecutive victory.
Darington Hobson had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Phillip McDonald added 10 points for the Lobos (26-3, 12-2 Mountain West), who matched a conference record for longest winning streak. Utah won 12 straight in 2004-05.
"We just broke [tied actually] a league record," Alford said. "I think our energy has been great. We are in a good situation. We have to maximize our rest here, but there is no way I can complain at all about how this team is doing. They continue to amaze me."
Especially the efforts of Gary, Martinez and Hobson.
"What they were able to do in the second half, the big three really came to the forefront late in the game," Alford said.
It was the second straight close game for the Lobos, who beat last-place Air Force 59-56 at home on Saturday.
Adam Nigon scored a career-high 23 points for Colorado State (15-12, 6-7) but the Rams couldn't avoid their third straight loss overall and seventh in a row to New Mexico.
"It's just disappointing to lose," Colorado State coach Tim Miles said. "There are no moral victories. We want to establish ourselves as a player in this league. New Mexico is the cream of the crop."
Miles pointed to the disparity in rebounding -- the Lobos outrebounded the Rams 44-32 -- as the biggest factor in the New Mexico's victory.
"Roman Martinez and Darington Hobson absolutely kicked our butts in the lane getting offensive rebounds," Miles said. "Our matchups were our guys that we wanted on them. Guys that are good rebounders. That was the greatest disappointment. They beat us at something that is even a strength of ours."
Andy Ogide added 12 points and Dorian Green had 11 for the Rams, who lost to a ranked opponent for the 10th consecutive time in a streak dating to 2004.
Trailing by three points, the Lobos went on a 9-0 run to start the second half, taking a 38-32 lead when Gary completed a three-point play 2:49 into period.
"We just couldn't get the stops at the beginning and we let them get ahead," Nigon said.
Still, the Lobos struggled to shake the Rams, who used an 11-3 run capped by Ogide's two-handed dunk to go back in front 49-47 with 8:39 remaining.
New Mexico needed a 7-0 run punctuated by Hobson's putback to regain command 60-55 with 3:43 left.
The Rams pulled to 62-60 on Travis Franklin's layup with 2:28 remaining but McDonald made two free throws and Gary finished a fastbreak with a layup.
Colorado State made a final push as Nigon's 3-pointer with 22.4 seconds left got the Rams within 69-66. But the Lobos made three of four free throws in the final seconds and the Rams missed the only shot they were able to get off in the final moments.
Nigon scored 14 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers to help the Rams take a 32-29 lead.
Colorado State led by seven points after Travis Busch hit a running jumper with 1:19 left in the opening half but the Lobos closed with four straight points, including a fastbreak layup by Gary to cut into what had been the Rams' biggest lead.