Smith’s 15 points lead New Mexico over E. Washington, 92-57
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)—Jamaal Smith scored 15 points and Daniel Faris tied a career high with 14, making first-year coach Steve Alford’s homecourt debut a success as New Mexico beat Eastern Washington 92-57 on Monday night.
J.R. Giddens had 13 points and 12 rebounds and reserve Chad Toppert scored 12 for the Lobos (2-0), who opened with a road win at Colorado last week and improved to 76-25 all-time in home openers.
Adris DeLeon and Trey Gross each scored 14 for Eastern Washington (0-2).
Alford worked the sideline wearing a bright cherry blazer, the same jacket he wore at his introductory news conference last spring. He entered The Pit to cheers and calls of “Good luck, Steve!”
Alford was hired away from Iowa after seven winning seasons in eight years. His team drew an first-night crowd of 12,016 fans, far from a full house in the 18,000-seat arena, but those who showed up enjoyed a good show.
New Mexico led 47-29 at halftime and scored the first six points after the break during a 10-4 burst.
Giddens scored on consecutive possessions, hitting a jumper and throwing down a highlight dunk after a stolen inbounds pass. That put the Lobos ahead 65-38 with just under 12 minutes remaining.
It was 77-44 with 8:26 to play after Toppert made a jumper, a 3-pointer and added a fastbreak bucket on a nice feed from Darren Prentice, then hit another 3-pointer during another 10-4 run.
Early on, the Lobos didn’t look nearly as sharp as their coach.
New Mexico committed four turnovers in the opening 4 minutes and Eastern Washington went ahead 10-3. But with Alford barking directions, the Lobos tightened their defense and took off.
Fueled by a 1-2-2 press, New Mexico used a 12-0 run over a 3 1/2 -minute span. Later, the Lobos scored 17 straight during a 4:13 stretch to build a 37-15 lead with 5:28 before halftime.