ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Despite Not Feeling Well, Greenwood Lifts UNM
BOISE, Idaho – Hugh Greenwood probably never should have taken the court Wednesday night.
He hadn’t eaten or slept in the 24 hours prior to No. 19 New Mexico’s Mountain West showdown in the Taco Bell Arena, he missed the pregame meetings and pregame shoot-around.
But when it mattered most, the Lobos sophomore point guard was there for his team.
Greenwood hit a game-tying basket with under a minute to play in regulation then scored five of his 15 points in overtime to lead the Lobos to a 79-74 win over the Boise State Broncos in front of a frenzied crowd of 10,420 in the Taco Bell Arena.
“I would not have guessed at 3 o’clock today that he was going to play,” Alford said. “And for him to play and play that well speaks to the volumes of just how tough he is. … I think our team feeds off that kind of toughness, I really do.”
UNM improved to 16-2 overall and 3-0 in Mountain West action. Boise State, which received votes this week in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches poll, fell to 13-3, 1-1.
With UNLV beating San Diego State later in the evening, UNM now sits alone atop the league standings as the lone unbeaten team remaining in conference play.
Greenwood’s heroics, along with another aggressive offensive effort from Tony Snell who had a team-high 22 points, overcame Boise State’s Derrick Marks’ 27 point effort and forward Ryan Watkins’ double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I’m definitely exhausted,” Greenwood said after the game. “I was feeling it a lot. I’m all about pregame. I’m all about preparing my body, and to not be able to eat, not be able to go into the game like I wanted to, it was difficult.”
Making things a little easier for Greenwood and the other Lobos guards was Boise State’s constant emphasis on defending UNM big men Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow.
Boise State, and Watkins in particular won the battle in the paint with UNM, out-rebounding UNM 38-33, including 8-6 on the offensive glass. Boise State had 24 points to 18 for UNM in the paint. And the Broncos had 16 second chance points to just seven for UNM, just four days after scoring 23 second chance points against Fresno State.
While the Broncos were attacking the Lobos big men – both Kirk and Bairstow had two first-half fouls, and Kirk fouled out of the game in overtime with 10 points and seven rebounds – the Lobos guards had plenty of open looks outside and hit nine 3-pointers, a number they’ve exceeded only twice this season.
“When you take something away,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said of focusing on stopping Kirk and Bairstow, “you usually give something up.”
The Broncos, Rice admitted, picked the wrong poison Wednesday.
“I think that’s why we’re hard to guard,” Alford said. “You focus on the inside game and then Hugh hurts you, Tony hurts you, Kendall hurts you.”
After Boise State took a 52-46 lead with 8:32 remaining in the game off a banked-in 3-pointer by Marks as the shot clock expired, the Lobos started to get things going again.
While Kirk had just one field goal made in the game, he hit a career-high eight free throws, including two with 7:54 remaining to cut the lead to 52-48. Then senior reserve guard Jamal Fenton hit back-to-back 3-pointers and UNM led 54-53 with 6:24 remaining.
The two teams matched run for run down the stretch until the Broncos, again focusing their efforts on UNM’s post players, left the lane wide open for Greenwood to drive to the hoop for an easy layup with 54 seconds remaining to tie the game 63-63.
“I should have dunked,” Greenwood joked. “I should have got my first dunk of the year.”
In overtime, Greenwood hit a deep jumper just 13 seconds into the extra period. Four more Kirk free throws and a Snell bucket had the Lobos up 71-66 with 2:24 left and the Lobos never trailed again.
“We were right there with them, toe-to-toe the whole game,” Rice said. “It comes down to just a couple plays.”
Snell’s 22 points, including five in overtime, led UNM’s offense, but the Lobos had four players score in double figures. Greenwood had 15, Kirk had 10 and Kendall Williams, coming off a one-game benching in Saturday’s Fresno State win, had 11 on 3-of-7 shooting to go along with a game-high six assists.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal