Starting big men Alex Kirk and Chad Adams each scored 12 points
while guard Demetrius Walker came off the bench to score 12 points
as well as New Mexico (10-0), ranked 18th in the Associated Press
poll and 20th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll, controlled the
pace of play most of the way to stay undefeated on the season.
“I am very pleased. We have had 10 up and 10 down and it has been
a very difficult stretch for our guys," said UNM head coach Steve Alford. "I knew this was going to be a grind tonight and I thought
our guys did a tremendous job in each twenty minutes guarding. We
held them to 25 one half and 27 the other half and made things
hard. We knew that they would probably slow things down a little
bit which is fine. We have been able to play versatile styles. I
really appreciate the effort by our guys.”
Valparaiso (6-3) turned the ball over
25 times for the game and the Lobos took advantage, converting the
miscues into a 22-3 scoring advantage on points from turnovers.
UNM only committed 10 turnovers for the game, a season low.
“It was big and we thought that we
could [turn them over] going in," said Alford. "I thought the big
key tonight was forcing turnovers.”
Valparaiso opened the game with a 5-2 run off a three pointer and
lay in from Ryan Broekhoff, who finished the game with 24 points
to lead all scorers. But UNM quickly tied the game at 5-5 then
took the lead on a three-pointer by Chad Adams to take an 8-5
lead. The Crusaders kept the game close in the first half.
The Lobos pushed the lead out to 23-17 on a Cameron Bairstow
jumper with 3:51 left in the half but Valpo kept it close and
looked to be trailing by just one going into the break. But
freshman Nick Banyard hit a leaning trey with 36 seconds left in
the half and UNM would take a 29-25 lead into the break.
The two teams played evenly in the opening minutes of the first
half before New Mexico went on an 8-0 run capped by an Alex Kirk
free throw that completed a three-point play to give UNM a 41-30
lead with 15:26 left in the game.the lead hovered at 11 until the
Lobos managed another run, capped by a trey by walker that gave
UNM a 59-44 advantage with 2:04 left in the game.
Kirk said that "patience and getting a little bit better shots"
were keys in the second half.
" think we got the ball inside a little bit more in the second
half," said Kirk. "We started finishing or at least getting to the
line a little bit more. We started off a little slow in the
beginning and picking it up and hitting some shots to pull away
UNM again out-shot their opponent at the free throw line, going
20 of 31 compare the Crusaders' 8 of 18 at the line. Alford said
that a key to the win.
"We got to the free throw line again
and sometimes when teams zone you, you don’t take advantage of the
free throw line," said Alford. "When you get to the line thirty
one times with a team who zones you speaks volumes of how
aggressive we were. We didn’t make a lot of shots but I did like
how we got to the line against the zone defense.”
Bairstow and Tony Snell added seven
points apiece and Bairstow added five rebounds for UNM. Hugh Greenwood added six points and six rebounds while Kendall Williams
scored five points -- all from the free throw line -- and added
six of UNM's 16 assists.
Forward Alex Van Wijk scored seven
points for Valparaiso before fouling out and Will Bogan added six
New Mexico finished with a 22-16
scoring advantage in the paint and the Lobo reserves outscored
Valpo's bench players 23-12.