University of New Mexico senior Cameron Bairstow settled for the silver medal at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.
Russia defeated Australia 81-74 Tuesday night in the gold medal game, but it wasn’t for a lack of production on Bairstow’s part.
The 6-foot-9 power forward scored 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes. He also had five boards and two steals.
In the eight games played in Russia, Bairstow led the Boomers in scoring average (12.8), rebounding (6.8) and blocked shots (1.0).
Meanwhile, his Lobo frontcourt mate Alex Kirk had eight points (4-of 7 from the field) and four rebounds in nine minutes as Team USA defeated Finland 97-70 in the ninth-place game.
Kirk dunked an alley-oop from Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell to put the USA ahead 70-37.
The 7-footer played in 7 of 8 games, averaging 3.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 8.4 minutes. He made 11 of 17 field goals.
UNM coach Craig Neal on Tuesday said he was very proud of both players and happy with the experience they got in Russia.
Then he joked he’ll be making both practice extra hard now that the games are over.
“Three-a-days as soon as they get back,” Neal said, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “They didn’t win gold.”
Kirk, who played the fewest minutes per game of any Team USA player and didn’t even see the court as his team lost to Bairstow’s Australia team, was still happy about the experience when he took to Twitter on Tuesday before flying home.
“Leaving Kazan soon,” Kirk wrote on Twitter. “Just wanna thank coach (Bob) McKillop, (Jim) Beilein, and (Frank) Martin, along with USA Basketball for helping me achieve my dream.”
Also, New Mexico State’s Daniel Mullings scored 10 points and had nine rebounds for Canada in its 87-74 loss to Serbia in the bronze medal game.
Mullings started six of eight games for Canada, made 32 of 61 field goals, and averaged 10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 20.5 minutes a game. He had 17 assists and 12 steals.