Despite three Cowboys in double-digit scoring, New Mexico Highlands men’s basketball team was no match for host University of New Mexico on Monday night in The Pit.
The Lobos never trailed and led by as many as 28 points in taking the exhibition game 92-70 over their Division II cousins from up I-25.
Foul trouble was a significant disparity Monday. The Cowboys were whistled for 33 compared to the Lobos’ 16. UNM made 35 of 48 free throws, while Highlands attempted just nine, making four.
Tony Snell opened the game by knocking down a three-pointer and UNM stayed in front the rest of the night, although it was competitive for a while.
Lavell McDade’s three-pointer midway through the first half made it 22-17.
But then Highlands missed three long balls in a row and went nearly five minutes without a field goal. The Lobos capitalized, embarking on a 26-3 run to make it 48-20 with 3:25 left before halftime.
Highlands shot just 29 percent in that first period in falling behind 58-32 at intermission.
But to the Cowboys’ credit, they kept battling, shot better in the second half and got within 16 points after a Stargell Love three made it 84-68 with 3:53 remaining.
The Lobos landed six in double figures, led by their two big men. Alex Kirk came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points — including an 8-for-8 showing at the foul line — to go with eight rebounds and three steals. Starting post Cameron Bairstow notched 14 points and seven rebounds, and both men blocked two Highlands shots.
Kendall Williams tallied a dozen points, Snell and Chad Adams 11 apiece. Hugh Greenwood had a robust stat line with 10 points, six boards, five steals and five assists.
NMHU guard Stuart Sullivan turned in a strong performance, scoring a game-high 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Sullivan swished five threes in 10 attempts. He also snared five rebounds.
McDade and Mannie Cass added 10 points apiece to join Sullivan in
double digits. Roland Fitch, who’d scored in doubles for Highlands’ two previous exhibition games — both wins — was held to seven points before fouling out.
Three Cowboys fouled out, and another three finished with four personal fouls apiece.
UNM and head coach Steve Alford open the regular season as one of the featured teams on ESPN’s televised college hoops tip-off marathon this coming Monday. The Lobos play Davidson at midnight in The Pit.
Highlands and head coach Joe Harge open their regular season Friday night at Lubbock Christian.