While the New Mexico Thunderbirds jumped out to an early 10-point lead, reminiscent of Thursday’s contest, the Austin Toros were determined to not let the Thunderbirds get away with a sweep in Austin this weekend. The home team battled back beginning late in the third and pressed the game to extra minutes before gaining a two-point lead and a 105-103 victory over the visitors this afternoon at the Cedar Park Center.
Forward Shane Edwards led New Mexico in the first quarter with six points for the visitors. Jermaine Beal led the Toros with seven points, but the team still finished the quarter with a ten-point deficit. Another key to the Thunderbirds success in the first was the domination when it came to defensive rebounds, collecting 12 of the Toros missed attempts.
Early in the second quarter, you could see the look of frustration on Marcus Cousin’s face as the home team struggled to put together any real offense against the pressing Thunderbirds. The Toros were forcing bad shots and drawing fouls against the visitors, much to the dismay of Thunderbirds head coach. The Toros were 9 of 10 on free throw attempts for the second quarter, but the Thunderbirds held a sizeable lead for most of the half.
In the final minutes of the quarter, the Austin Toros did manage to put together a surge to close the half. Beginning with a three-point shot made by Lewis Clinch, the Toros scored seven consecutives points, including 2 free throws and a fade away jumper by Aubrey Coleman to pull within one point. However, the Thunderbirds got one back with less than five seconds remaining in the half to end the frame with a score of 58-55.
To begin the third, the Toros kept the game within reach, pressing harder on defense and pushing for rebounds. Aubrey Coleman had a big quarter for the Toros with nine points and Lance Thomas added six to his tally. With just under six minutes remaining in the frame, the Toros tied up the game for the first time at 58 points. A late quarter rush by the visitors however, put the Thunderbirds up by 5.
The two teams continued to battle in the final quarter, with the Toros getting a big contribution from Kevin Palmer. Palmer was later named the Player of the Game and had 10 points in the fourth quarter. Marcus Cousin added seven of his own and managed to stuff New Mexico guard Dar Tucker a couple of times down low to keep the Thunderbirds from scoring the game-winner.
In overtime, the Austin Toros defense came up big again, allowing only four Thunderbirds points within the three-minute period. Lance Thomas, Marcus Cousin and Kevin Palmer each added two points to give the Toros the 105-103 overtime victory.