No. 15/17 UNM outlasts CSU 66-61

UNM's Tony Snell

Junior Tony Snell scored a game-high 23 points – including two crucial free throws in the closings seconds – as the host New Mexico Lobos defeated the visiting Colorado St. Rams 66-61 before a sell out crowd of 15,411 in The Pit. UNM led by as much as 22 points in the second half before the Rams rallied to cut the lead to 64-61 on a Wes Eikmeier three pointer with seven seconds left in the game.

But Snell, who's inbounds passes had been intercepted on two consecutive inbounds in the final twenty seconds, was fouled immediately after and then calmly sank two free throws. Eikmeier misses his final two treys in the final four seconds and the Lobos held on to the win.

"I just block it out," said Snell after the game. "I know that when I get out of it when I make a mistake because I really don't like making mistakes, but I've learned that I'm going to make mistakes and I need to just get over it and move on."

New Mexico, which moved to 17-2 for the first time since the 1977-78 season and posted its first 4-0 conference start since the 1991-92 season, took a 35-25 lead into the half after playing Colorado State (15-4, 2-2) even through the first 14 minutes of the first half.

UNM then finished the first half on an 8-0 run that gained it steam on a highlight-reel making dunk by Snell.

The Lobos played evenly to start the second half before going on an 11-3 run capped by a pair of Jamal Fenton free throws  to take a 56-36 lead with 9:56 left in the second half.

But Colorado State immediately managed a n 8-0 run of it own fueled by treys from Eiemeier, who led CSU with 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting, including 4-6 shooting from behind the arc, and Dorian Green to cut the UNM advantage to 56-44 with 8:23 left in the game.

"They are a very gritty group," said Alford. "They fight you. They do a great job defensively of making it hard on you. They are, without question, the most aggressive rebounding team that we have faced all year."

Green scored 14 points while center Colton Iverson posted another double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling in 14 rebounds.

But while Iverson was effective for stretches, forwards Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith were both kept in check with foul trouble and great defense from New Mexico's Chad Adams and Cameron Bairstow. Smith fouled out with seven points and six rebounds and Hornung scored just two points and added seven rebounds.

Colorado State did its usual great job on the boards, outrebounding UNM 42 to 28. But the Lobos were able to limit the Rams' second chance points to 13 while turning CSU's 16 turnovers into 22 points. The Rams finished the game with all four starters in foul trouble, which played into UNM's hands.

"We got to their bench - that helped us," said Alford. "Getting Dorian Green in foul trouble in the first half and getting Greg Smith in foul trouble in the first half really allowed us to get into some really good rhythm."

Adams added 13 points and six rebounds – the only other Lobo on double figures. Junior guard Kendall Williams added nine points and four assists while senior Jamal Fenton came off the bench to add nine points, going 6 of 6 from the free throw line.

UNM center Alex Kirk, who misses practice all week with the flu, posted three points and three rebounds in 21 minutes and spent most of his energy battling Iverson in the post, effectively limiting the CSU transfer.

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