Richard Chaney - who scored 14 points - fights for a rebound Saturday.
March 1, 2003
By PETE HERRERA
AP Sports Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Ruben Douglas and his teammates gave New Mexico fans a memorable win in an otherwise forgettable season.
Douglas, the nation's leading scorer, had 39 points, including a school-record 26 free throws, as the Lobos beat No. 22 Utah 76-69 on Saturday.
"It's a good feeling," said Douglas, who earlier in the day was named to the school's all-time team. "We've been coming up short a lot lately and this is a good victory for us. We're going to bask in it and take it for what it's worth."
New Mexico (10-15, 4-8 Mountain West) is on the verge of its first losing season in 20 years, but the Lobos rode their parade to the foul line to snap the Utes' nine-game winning streak.
"They came out with energy, effort, enthusiasm and commitment. Their energy to play far exceeded ours and that was the game. Case closed."
-- Rick Majerus
Utah (21-5, 9-2) also set a school record, though not one the Utes want to remember. They put up 40 3-point attempts, hitting 12. That broke the previous school mark of 34 3-point attempts against San Diego State in 1999.
Utah coach Rick Majerus, whose team had won 16 of its last 17 games, said New Mexico deserved the win.
"They came out with energy, effort, enthusiasm and commitment," Majerus said. "Their energy to play far exceeded ours and that was the game. Case closed."
With Douglas and point guard Javin Tindall consistently beating the taller but slower-footed Utes on drives inside, the Lobos had a field day at the free throw line. They took 53 foul shots and made 40 to offset Utah's 25-16 edge in field goals. Utah shot only seven free throws and made all of them.
Douglas was 26-for-31 at the free throw line, including 20-of-23 in the second half. Douglas, who is averaging a Division I-best 28.5 points a game, was 5-of-17 from the field. But the Utes, who bumped and hung on the Lobos guard all day, repeatedly sent him to the line. The 31 foul shots attempted by Douglas also set a school record.
"I thought our guys did an excellent job of getting the ball into Ruben's hands," New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said.
The 6-foot-5 Douglas also had a career-high 14 rebounds. His 26 free throws broke the previous mark of 19 free throws by Toby Roybal against Wyoming in 1956.
Tindall went 6-for-6 at the line and had 15 points.
That was enough to offset two scoring droughts from the field. The Lobos went the final eight minutes of the first half without a field goal but still led 27-22. And their only field goal over the game's final 7½ minutes was a layup by David Chiotti with 12 seconds left.
New Mexico never trailed after scoring 10 straight points for a 13-6 lead. Douglas, who missed his first three shots and first two free throws, sparked the run. He hit consecutive 3-pointers in a span of 22 seconds, then added a short jumper in the lane.
Douglas opened the second half with a 3-pointer and two free throws, then added a jumper with 17:47 left - his final field goal of the game - to give the Lobos a 34-24 lead.
Utah got within 67-61 on a 3-pointer by Jackson with 1:09 left, but Douglas kept the Lobos in front with seven free throws over the final minute.
The loss marked the seventh time in 10 games that New Mexico has beaten a ranked Utah team coached by Majerus.
It also was easily New Mexico's biggest win of the season.
"I hope that we recognize that we're the University of New Mexico and we belong at a high level," McKay said. "I'm proud of our guys for not giving up on the season and for the way we have continually endured adversity."