Williams helps New Mexico top Long Beach StateMar 16, 2012 - 1:36 AM Portland, OR (Sports Network) - Kendall Williams netted 14 of his 16 points in the second half while Drew Gordon added 18 points and 13 rebounds as New Mexico opened its NCAA Tournament with a 75-68 win over Long Beach State.
Hugh Greenwood had 12 points for the fifth-seeded Lobos (28-6), who will play No. 4 seed Louisville in a West Regional third-round game on Saturday.
Casper Ware, a two time Big West Player of the Year, netted 17 points and dished out seven assists for the 49ers (25-9), but was just 5-of-19 from the floor and 2-of-9 from beyond the arc.
"He's a great scorer, great player. But we have some athletic guys and we were able to drag out the screens a little bit. Early in the game he was able to turn the hip on some of our big men, and we made that adjustment and tried to have him be forced back into the guard and kind of contained him a little better," Williams said of New Mexico's ability to contain Ware.
T.J. Robinson had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds for Long Beach State, which made its first tournament appearance since 2007.
Neither squad led by more than six in the first half, but Gordon capped an 8-0 Lobos spurt with an offensive rebound and putback, giving New Mexico a 51-43 advantage with 11:57 to play.
But Long Beach State didn't go away as it countered with a 10-3 run.
Ware, who went nearly 25 minutes between baskets, netted a pair of field goals during the surge as the 49ers pulled within 54-53 with 8:08 remaining.
After James Ennis' dunk gave Long Beach State a 61-59 lead with 4:57 left, the Lobos responded with a 9-1 push. Williams began the surge with a trey and Greenwood capped it with a pair of free throws, giving New Mexico a 68-63 advantage with 2:52 to go.
Mike Caffey's three-pointer pulled the 49ers within 68-66 with 1:53 to play, but Long Beach State never got any closer.
Williams made a layup at the other end and Ware wasn't able to bring the 49ers back as he missed three key shots in the final 1:12.
He wasn't able to get his layup to drop on Long Beach State's ensuing possession, and then misfired on a three-point attempt from the left corner with 48 ticks to go, which could've brought his team within 70-69. Trailing by five with 16 seconds left, Ware missed another layup, sealing the 49ers' fate.
The Lobos made five of their six foul shots in the final 39 seconds to secure the win.
"They made more plays, more free throws, (and) did the little things down the stretch just a little bit better than we did," 49ers head coach Dan Monson said.
It was a sloppy opening half for both squads.
Long Beach State, which turned the ball over on each of its first five possessions, finished the stanza with 12 turnovers. The Lobos, meanwhile, gave the ball away nine times, but took a 33-29 lead into the locker room.
Long Beach State is still searching for its first tournament win since 1973. It has lost its last five tournament openers...The Lobos made their first tournament appearance since 2010. As the third seed, they got by Montana in the first round before bowing out to 11th-seeded Washington in the second... Big West Defensive Player of the Year Larry Anderson, who didn't play in the conference tournament due to a knee strain, scored just five points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field for Long Beach State.
- LONG BEACH STATE: 68
NEW MEXICO: 75
Mar 15 6:34 PM
- LONG BEACH STATE: 29
NEW MEXICO: 33
Mar 15 5:18 PM
- LONG BEACH STATE: 0
NEW MEXICO: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 15 4:30 PM
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