|Posted January 17, 2008|
Pack rallies with team effort to knock off Western New Mexico
SILVER CITY, N.M. - In a season where the
ThunderWolves seemed to always be on the wrong end of close games,
veteran leadership came through in the person of junior center Jake Trahern, the most tenured player on the Pack
Trahern scored five very important points inside the final two minutes of the game, including a huge three-point play with 90 seconds remaining, that gave the Pack just enough breathing room to prevail 64-60 in a barn-burner with Western New Mexico
With neither team getting more than a four-point advantage for the bulk of the second half, Trahern sank two free throws at the two-minute mark to tie the game at 57.
Trahern followed that up by going for the bucket, forcing a foul by the Mustangs' Kris Taylor, and sinking the subsequent free throw. The play gave the Pack a huge 60-57 advantage, which changed the approach the Mustangs would take for the rest of the game.
The Pack continued to hold the Mustangs at bay until Devin Stewart, who finished second on the Mustangs with 14 points, made a layup with 49 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 62-60.
The Pack responded with a near-fatal mistake as Julien Franklin committed an offensive foul that gave the Mustangs a chance to tie with 10 seconds remaining, one of the few mistakes Franklin made in a 12-point effort.
But the ThunderWolves responded in a way that a winning team should as Rome Smith got a huge steal at the four-second mark that sealed the ball game. Smith buried the two free throws on the subsequent foul to give the Pack the win in their Western Division opener.
"Early in the season, our guard play was lacking," Pack coach Patrick Eberhart said. "But now our guard play is catching up with our post play. They played good, not just in scoring points, but in making big plays, like the one Rome made at the end."
The ThunderWolves arrival at the final score came after they rallied from a seven-point halftime disadvantage to tie the game, putting together a 7-0 run. The Pack hit their first four field goal attempts of the second half, leading to a dogfight for position the rest of the way.
In the second half, there were 11 lead changes, the first Pack lead coming seven minutes into the half. From there, the Pack's big men took over the game. The Pack's post trio of Jake Trahern, Chris Childress and Brian Sewald combined to go 11-for-20 to score 32 points, compared to just 12 by the Western New Mexico front court of Casey Crevelone, JJ Galberth and Kris Taylor, who was held scoreless during the game before fouling out following Trahern's big three-point play near the end of the game.
"We put Sewald on the floor to play some on the post and on the perimeter as well, posting him up on their small guards," Eberhart said. "Having [Sewald, Trahern and Childress] on the floor at the same time really helped our rebounding and our play on the perimeter. We may be on to something for the last 13 games."
The Pack was also helped from a strong game by Rome Smith, who netted a team-leading 16 points, going 4-for-8 from beyond the arc. Trahern also scored 16 points.
The big win gave the Pack its second conference win, upping their record to 2-6 and 5-10 overall. But just getting the win against a tough Western New Mexico team isn't enough, Eberhart said.
"Usually, you want to go on a road trip like this and get a split," Eberhart explained. "But in our situation, we need a sweep. If we can go to Highlands [Saturday] and get the sweep, it will be big for us."
The Cowboys enter Saturday's game winless with an 0-15 mark.