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March 9, 2013

Falcons soar to victory over UNM

The 12th-ranked New Mexico Lobos had proven all season that good defense wins basketball games. And they proved Saturday evening that bad defense loses basketball games.

UNM stood around and watched the Falcons drive to the basket for open layup after open layup and lost to Air Force 89-88 to end the regular-season. AFA shot 56.4 percent, which was the highest of the season and ties the best shooting against a Steve Alford-coached teams in his six seasons at New Mexico. The 89 points are also a tie for the most against an Alford team.

Air Force scored 26 points in the paint without the help of a true big man. Many of those points were the result of blowing by UNM defenders who seemed to spend most of the game a step or two behind.

``I didn't like our defensive execution,'' said Alford. ``We gave up 56 percent and 89 points. We've been much better in games past.''

The Falcons shot 48.4 percent from 3-point range. The winning points came on a 3 by Michael Lyons followed by a 3 by Todd Fletcher with 3 seconds on the clock.

The Lobos had a good night on the offensive end. They shot 58.6 percent. Tony Snell hit seven 3s for 21 points and Kendall Williams also had 21 points. Williams was 5-for-6 at the foul line but that one miss proved to be the losing point in the closing seconds.

Alex Kirk had another double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Cameron Bairstow scored 12 as UNM had good success by going inside to the two bigmen.

``Some nights when you come into somebody's house, they hit everything. They just shot well,'' Alford noted. ``There will be some games when they do that. If we're going to lose, I want it to be when the other team plays lights out.''

Lyons finished with 30 points by hitting 11 of 21. Fletcher knocked down six 3s on eight attempts and had 21 points.

UNM ends the regular season with a 26-5 record and won the Mountain West Conference championship by two full games over the field with a 13-3 conference record. The MWC tournament opens on Tuesday with Wyoming playing Nevada in the pigtail game. The winner of that game will play New Mexico at 7:30 MDT on Wednesday in the Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas, Nev.


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