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    Wyoming Press . . . "Cowboys continue to slide "

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    Cowboys continue to slide

    Star-Tribune staff writer
    Wednesday, February 4, 2009 2:06 AM MST

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- It didn't seem like the road trip could have got off to a rougher start.

    It finished even worse.

    Three nights after BYU beat Wyoming by 24 points, the New Mexico Lobos followed suit, doubling the Cowboys up by halftime and cruising to an 86-57 victory at The Pit on Tuesday night in front of 13,081 fans.

    "It is old," UW senior Brandon Ewing said. "We just gotta play tough. We gotta play tough for 40 minutes. We can't play tough for 20 minutes or 10 minutes, it's gotta be a 40-minute deal."

    The Cowboys held strong for about 10 minutes against the Lobos, trailing by just three points midway through the first half.

    But New Mexico senior Chad Toppert hit his first 3-pointer of the game. Then he hit another two minutes later and then back-to-back bombs less than two minutes after that, sparking a 14-2 run that turned out to be a deadly blow for the Pokes.

    "We were down (three) � and I thought we'd played pretty good," UW coach Heath Schroyer said. "Then we lost Toppert a few times (and) threes in this building (are) hard to overcome.

    "We just didn't rotate quick enough to him and he made some tough shots and that was the difference."

    Toppert, who comes off the bench for the Lobos, drilled five first-half 3-pointers, nearly out-scoring UW by himself as the Cowboys scored just 20 points, their lowest output in any half this season.

    They made just seven field goals, turned the ball over 10 times and missed at least seven shots in the paint.

    "The frustrating part is we got the ball in the paint nine times and didn't capitalize," Schroyer said. "We threw the ball to the post six times in the first half and had turnovers.

    "I thought we got the ball where we wanted to in the first half, but we just struggled."

    After the break, UW just did all that it could to trade baskets with the Lobos, who held the Cowboys to a season-low 57 points.

    "Obviously this is a really good win for us," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. "To hold this team to 35 percent shooting, 57 points -- their lowest of the season -- is huge.

    "It was just a really good performance by a lot of guys tonight."

    All 10 Lobos that played made at least two buckets and scored at least four points. Toppert led all scorers with 17, while Daniel Faris pitched in 11 points and six rebounds.

    UW senior guard Sean Ogirri led the Pokes with 16 points, all of them coming after halftime, while Ewing and Afam Muojeke each finished with 13 points.

    "I tried to get my teammates involved, but we couldn't get any stops on the defensive end," Ewing said. "We hit enough threes, enough shots, but we didn't get any stops."

    And the Lobos finished off the Cowboys' road trip with a few parting shots as Will Brown slammed home a pair of alley-oop dunks with less than a minute left, capping off one forgettable road trip.

    Contact sports reporter Eric Schmoldt at (307) 266-0578 or {M7eric.schmoldt@trib.com.


    TUESDAY: New Mexico 86, Wyoming 57

    RECORDS: Lobos (14-9, 5-3 Mountain West Conference); Cowboys (14-8, 3-5 MWC)

    TOP IT OFF: New Mexico senior Chad Toppert dealt the Pokes their second straight blowout loss on the road by hitting four 3-pointers in a 14-2 first-half run.

    HE SAID IT: We can't play tough for 20 minutes or 10 minutes, it's gotta be a 40-minute deal." -- UW senior Brandon Ewing

    UP NEXT: Utah at Wyoming, Saturday, 2 p.m. (the mtn.)


    POINTS: 17


    SHOOTING: 6-of-10 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range

    BEYOND THE STATS: Toppert caught fire midway through the first half, sending the Lobos on an early run that the Pokes never recovered from

    WYOMING'S BEST: UW freshman Afam Muojeke scored 13 points, but made just 5 of 16 field-goal attempts. He also had three assists and a pair of rebounds in 34 minutes.


    TIME: Midway through the first half

    SCORE: UW trailed 15-12

    WHAT: The Pokes weren't setting the world on fire, but were at least hanging tough on the scoreboard before Chad Toppert came off the bench and hit his first 3-pointer of the game.

    AFTER THAT: Toppert hit three more triples over the next few minutes, leading the Lobos on a 14-2 run that helped them double up the Cowboys, 41-20, at the break.

    It's always Lobo roundball season . . .

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