Rams take advantage of Lobos’ road woes in another homebound rout

Luke Zahlmann

Through a trio of Moutain West bouts, the New Mexico Lobos had showcased two different teams.

One iteration was the squad that overcame long odds to upset No. 5/6 Nevada, the other was one that struggled to beat Air Force on the road and lost to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas at home by double digits.

Ad

On their trip to Colorado State, after sweeping the Rams last year by an average margin of 18 points, they took the form of the latter in Moby Arena, falling 91-76.

Following the lead of several small-ball lineups instituted by Niko Medved, the Rams darted out to a 9-3 tally to begin the game. Heading the charge was Adam Thistlewood with a pair of 3-point makes. 

A man shoots a basketball
Adam Thistlewood (31) goes for a shot from just outside of the key in the first half of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednesday, December 5, 2018. The freshman forward would end up scoring 10 points in the 26 minutes of time he spent on the court. (Josh Schroeder | Collegian)

“We just took the shots that were open,” Hyron Edwards said. “We can make the three, but they were playing a zone so they were playing us not to shoot the three.”

Their multiple four-guard lineups notwithstanding, the team failed to convert a 3-point attempt following three-consecutive makes to open the contest.

The team instead found solace in their efforts at the rim with both layups and floaters, racking up a 61.8-percent mark from the field in the first half.

Furthering the teams’ efforts at the rim as the period went on were program mainstays J.D. Paige and Nico Carvacho who accumulated 19 combined points in the first half.

Newcomers Thistlewood and Edwards also made an impact, finalizing their first half endeavors with 18 points of their own. Edwards’ 10 points in the first 20 minutes represented a season-high mark already. He finished with a game-high 20.

Medved’s squad rode the coattails of their efficient start to a 48-38 lead at the half, a margin that was deduced by a 9-2 run in a 1:20 span as the half neared a conclusion.

Out of the intermission, the other side of the ball picked up the slack for the Rams. The teams’ defense forced a pair of shot clock violations in just 1:30 span to begin the second half.

Kris Martin, an addition to the lineup with the loss of Anthony Masinton-Bonner, swatted away a shot to ignite the crowd on the latter violation. 

Ad

“The crowd was amazing,” Edwards said. “We need that more man. We feed off the crowd.” 

With Martin’s induction into the starting lineup, Edwards once again made an impact in the second half as the team’s newly-minted sixth man.

His efforts to Medved were a product of increased comfort.

“You’re really seeing Hyron Edwards start to get his groove back,” Medved said. “Every game that he plays, he’s looking more comfortable… I thought (Hyron and Kendle) did a really good job of disrupting and pressuring the ball.” 

Kris Martin passes the ball during the game against Sam Houston State on Dec. 8. The Rams won 71-65. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

Martin and Edwards’ efforts were relied upon further when Carvacho picked up his fourth foul with 10:48 remaining in the game, relegating the team’s lone source of size to the bench.

With the loss of both Bonner and Carvacho set to hinder the team’s efforts, their driving force became pressuring the Lobos at the rim.

With several contested looks in the paint, the Rams forced nine fouls in just the first 11 minutes of the final period to trigger free throws with each foul.

A Thistlewood 3-pointer following backup big man Logan Ryan’s pair of trips to the charity stripe ignited the crowd once again and served as the final blow.

In the game’s final eight minutes following the outburst, the Rams extended their lead to 25 at one point, maintaining a winning margin for the game’s final stretch.

Ryan finished the contest with 12 points in Carvacho’s stead, only one short of his career-high mark.

In all, Medved’s squad led the matchup for 38:41 of game time behind double-digit scoring efforts from five separate players. 

“We’ve got good players, but we’re not the most talented team out there every night,” Medved said. “But we’ve got to be the best team and I think that’s what we did here today.” 

The victory over the Lobos was the conclusion to their two-game homestand as they’ll head to Utah State Jan. 19th after a six-day hiatus. The weekend matchup tips off at 7 p.m.

Collegian Sports Director Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.