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Thursday, December 18, 2014

UNM 125: Lobos take Wildcats 62-53 in opener

Printed December 2, 1964

The UNM Basketball Lobos overcame a cold start and a 27-25 halftime deficit to down the underestimated Wildcats of Abilene Christian College 62-53 last night in the season opener for both clubs.

First-game sluggishness plagued the Wolfpack through most of the game, which officially opened the new University Basketball Arena before a crowd of 12,020, just 2,800 short of capacity.

The Wildcats, virtually unknown to Albuqeurque and not too well-known to even the Lobo mentors, showed up sporting NCAA Regional Champion patches on their warmup jackets and started fans wondering just how tough the boys from Abilene were. Albuquerque folks didn’t have to wait long to find out.

The Lobos took the opening tipoff but turned it over to the Wildcats on a personal foul. ACC moved downcourt and set up for a shot underneath by 6-8 center David Wray to draw first blood.

The two teams played tag for the rest of the first half with neither able to establish much of a lead. A hot ACC defense and a ragged Wolfpack offense on one hand and a lukewarm Lobo defense and a hot Wildcat offense on the other combined to keep scoring low and hometown fans’ frustration high. Meanwhile, the Wildcats took a 27-25 lead to the dressing rooms at the half.

The second half was another matter altogether. The Lobo defense started to click shortly after the tipoff and effectively bottled up ACC’s offense, which was forced to go outside for many shots. All but one of the Wildcats’ second-half field goals came from 6-8 center David Wray, who shot 5 for 5 from the floor, and 6-7 forward Wendell Stewart, who was 3 for 3 the second half.

On the Lobo side of the ledger, big Mel Daniels, 6-9 senior center, was also 5 for 5 the second half and 9 for 16 for the game from the floor. Other Lobos who hit 50 percent or better for the game were point man Don Hoover, 2 for 2; sophomore JC transfer Ron Sanford, 4 for 6; and senior forward Bill Morgan, 4 for 8.

Defensively the entire squad perked up after a mostly uniform slow first half. Big Ben Monroe, 6-3 senior forward, and Bill Morgan were strong as always on defense. Newcomers Ron Sanford, Ron Nelson, Frank Judge all looked good. But Hoover was the key man. He rallied the Lobo floor game all night.

The Lobos as usual dominated both the offensive and defensive, outrebounding the Cats 37-16. Big Mel Daniels grabbed 12 and Ben Monroe nine to lead the Wolfpack in that department. Mel Daniels led the Lobo scoring with 19 points. He was followed by Ron Sanford with 11, Bill Morgan with 10, Ben Monroe with nine, and Frank Judge with seven. Other Lobo scorers were Don Hoover, four, and Ron Nelson, two.

The Wolfpack is off to a slow start this season, but considering their material and coach Bob King’s past record, they should pick up speed soon and come up to the quality that UNM fans are used to seeing from Lobo basketball teams.