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October 25, 2014

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New Mexico feeds off energy of its fans to defeat Wyoming

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

New Mexico fans cheer their team on against Wyoming during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack Center. New Mexico won the game 59-46.

MWC Tournament: New Mexico vs. Wyoming

New Mexico guard Kendall Williams shoots after getting tripped up by Wyoming during their Mountain West Conference Tournament game Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at the Thomas & Mack. Launch slideshow »

With a raucous crowd supporting it through the day, New Mexico didn't want to let its fans down by losing to the No. 8 seed in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

The Lobos ground out a wire-to-wire 59-46 victory over Wyoming on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

"The fans are definitely a big-time part of how we play because they bring us energy when we hear them screaming," said guard Alex Snell, who led the way with 15 points. "They give us energy to play better and pick each other up."

New Mexico will play the winner of San Diego State 6:30 p.m. Friday in the tournament semifinal.

"We always break it into seasons," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. "When you get to season three, you've got to win to advance. Season three can be quick or a three-game deal or a two-game deal. To get to the semis, we feel very fortunate."

Snell came out firing immediately, hitting his first four shots from the floor, scoring 11 points in the first half.

But as good as New Mexico was throughout the game, Wyoming cut the lead down to four on a few occasions, but was unable to get over the hump.

Things only got more difficult when Leonard Washington, the Cowboys' best player, fouled out of the game with nearly eight minutes to play.

New Mexico, while challenged, was never threatened thereafter, and it allowed the Lobos to start thinking about the next round.

In all, New Mexico shot 40.5 percent from the floor, and allowed Wyoming to grab 12 offensive rebounds.

Neither was overly concerning for Alford, considering his team has overcome it before.

"We've done that a lot this year," Alford said of shooting 40 percent or worse. "That doesn't concern me a whole lot because we had a good defensive team we were playing against."

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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