Gary wills Lobos past Rams

Dairese Gary hobbled up three steps, ice packs on his right elbow, his left ankle, his back and both knees.

If Thursday's game resembled a street fight, the New Mexico point guard wanted to make sure his team was the last one standing.

"Dairese will do the things that give your team a chance to win every single night," coach Steve Alford said after his Lobos' 67-61 victory over Colorado State. "This was one of his worst shooting nights in his entire career, yet he finds a way of getting his team in positions to win."

Gary made just 3 of 11 shots, missing all four 3-point attempts, but his hustle helped the Lobos (21-11) advance to the Mountain West Conference tournament semifinals.

No. 5 seed New Mexico meets top-seeded Brigham Young (29-3) at 6 p.m. today. The Lobos have won the past four meetings.

The Rams (19-12) made the game close, even though they were without guard Adam Nigon, who injured his left big toe in Wednesday's practice.

Nigon averaged just 6.4 points this season but supplied much the same kind of energy that Gary gives New Mexico.

"It's a travesty for the kid," an emotional Colorado State coach Tim Miles said. "You can't ask for more out of anyone -- more commitment, more effort. I just feel terrible for him."

Colorado State took New Mexico to the final two minutes before the Lobos' Drew Gordon found Gary inside for a layup and potential three-point play with 1:47 left. Gary missed the free throw, but the Lobos had the lead for good, 61-59.

New Mexico extended the advantage to 66-59 with 20 seconds left.

The Lobos were aided by a 41-28 edge in rebounding.

"They were getting the 50-50 balls," said Rams forward Andy Ogide, who had 25 points and 11 rebounds. "Seemed like they got every single one."

No play summed that up more than Gary's heady hustle play midway through the second half. He dived for a loose ball and in one motion called timeout as Colorado State players enveloped him.

Some of Gary's teammates had better statistics -- Gordon finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Kendall Williams scored 16 points -- but Gary's effort had even the opposing coach gushing.

"Dairese Gary won that game," Miles said.

Gary said he had a "little bit of pain" to show for his all-out play. "But the win," he said, "makes it feel a lot better."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914.