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Lobos survive the Waves

UNM uses balanced scoring in win; now hits road to face Memphis

The UNM men’s basketball team went on an 11-0 run to begin the second half and matched Pepperdine University basket for basket down the stretch for an 81-78 win in The Pit Tuesday night.

Down 49-37 at halftime, the Lobos (21-12) held the Waves (22-9) scoreless for more than five minutes to close the deficit to one. Pepperdine would increase its lead to 10 points, but UNM finally took the lead at 73-71 with 3:43 to play and staved off the Waves for the win and a Thursday night matchup at the University of Memphis in the NIT quarterfinals.

The announced crowd of 16,278 stood for much of the second half, and when the game ended, many stormed the Pit floor to celebrate the victory in what turned out to be the home finale for the Lobos.

“In the second half, the crowd got us into it, but coach Fran got on us real tough,” UNM guard Eric Chatfield said. “He wasn’t ready to give up, and we weren’t ready to give up. We stayed aggressive and we attacked and we played good defense.”

UNM guards Marlon Parmer, Ruben Douglas, Chatfield and Tim Lightfoot combined for 70 of the Lobos’ points. Douglas led the UNM scoring with 25, Parmer added 17 and Lightfoot and Chatfield each pitched in 14.

“We are never going to quit,” UNM head coach Fran Fraschilla said. “It wasn’t anything ingenious we said at halftime. The fact that we came out and guarded them much better in the first six minutes of the second half really set the tone.”

The Waves came out pressing to begin the game, but a Parmer-to-Wayland White alley-oop dunk softened Pepperdine’s defense. Then the Waves used a zone defense to stifle UNM’s offensive play.

At the 12:55 mark, the Lobos held a slim 19-18 advantage — their last until late in the second half. Pepperdine held UNM to only five points over the next 8:48 for its biggest lead at 35-23. Pepperdine forward Kelvin Gibbs scored 12 points on six-of-eight shooting in the first half and standout guard Brandon Armstrong hit 15 to pace the Waves in the first half. Gibbs finished with 20 and Armstrong finished with a game-high 27 for Pepperdine.

White picked up three early fouls in the first half, which allowed Gibbs to have his way with the Lobos inside. But his return in the second half solidified UNM’s defense, though he picked up his fourth foul with more than eight minutes to play.

“In the second half I needed to come out and not give up the easy foul,” White said. “When I picked up my fourth foul I told coach ‘You get me out of here, right now’ so I could be in for the stretch run.”

Lightfoot hit his first of three second half 3-pointers with seven minutes gone to bring UNM to within 55-51, yet inexplicably was left open to hit two more, the latter to close Pepperdine’s 66-56 lead to seven.

“I guess they left me open because I went zero for two in the second half,” Lightfoot said. “Or maybe they thought I was still in a slump from the Baylor game. But I just needed to follow through.”

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The Lobos closed Pepperdine’s lead to 69-68 after a Chatfield steal and layup. Armstrong was suddenly cold, missing three straight shot attempts to aid UNM’s cause. Parmer lofted a long three to tie the game at 71, yet Pepperdine would take the lead again at 75-74 on a short Gibbs hook shot.

But Armstrong, Gibbs and David Lalazarian each missed shots in the game’s closing 1:10 and Douglas hit three of four free throws to ice the game. White added a thunderous windmill slam with 2.4 seconds to play and Lalazarian hit a half-court three to end the scoring.

The Lobos will face Memphis for only the second time in the two teams’ histories. The Tigers beat the Lobos 96-72 in Tennessee in 1956. Memphis advanced to the quarterfinals by trouncing the University of Texas at El Paso 90-65 last night in Memphis.

Fraschilla and Tiger head coach John Calipari, who coached the University of Massachusetts to prominence in the 1990s, Sare familiar with each other.

“I have known John Calipari since 1978 — we were counselors together at Dean Smith’s Basketball Camp, we were both sophomores in college,” Fraschilla said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and a heck of a challenge playing those guys.”

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