New Mexico Survives ‘The Beach’

Thursday's NCAA tournament West region was full of blow outs, but one game came down to the wire.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

The Lobos knew that in order to prevent another early exit from the NCAA tournament, they would have to shut down Big West player of the year Casper Ware. Kendall Williams made sure he did just that, helping his New Mexico squad to a 75-68 second-round NCAA tournament win over Long Beach State.

Williams, who not only came through on the clutch offensively, allowed only 17 points to Ware on 5-of-19 shooting. He also prevented the Long Beach State star from scoring for nearly 25 minutes mid-way through the game.

"He carried us. I didn't give him a blow in the second half. I told him we kind of wore him out," Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said.

After shutting down Ware, Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, which included a go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:38 left to play, and a floating, soft runner through traffic with 1:25 left to seal the deal.

"Our coaches told us to get into the lane and penetrate and make plays," Williams said. "I saw a few openings, a few opportunities and was able to make some pretty big shots down the stretch."

Drew Gordon was also a stud, adding 18 points and 13 boards in the win.

New Mexico will face No. 4 seed Louisville in the third round on Saturday. The Cardinals beat Davidson 69-62. New Mexico has been knocked out in its second game of the tournament in five of their last six NCAA tournament appearances.

                                  1    2   T
#12 Long Beach St  29  39  68
#5   New Mexico      33  42  75

Other scores from the West region on Thursday

#11 Colorado St  41
#5   Murray St  58

#13 Davidson  62
#4   Louisville  69

#14 BYU  68
#3   Marquette  88

Friday's West Games To Watch

Virginia and Florida is sure to be a battle-royale. But watch out for Saint Louis versus Memphis as well. With both teams being evenly matched, that game could easily down to the last second.