In his inaugural post-game interview, new BayRunners coach Terry Truax talked of his team's high intensity, effort and attitude for four quarters.
And he was right, except Truax forgot to mention the level of play, which was pretty high for 3 1/2 quarters until New Mexico forward Jason Sasser took over in the final minutes, leading the Slam to a 94-87 victory last night in front of 2,758 at Baltimore Arena.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the effort and enthusiasm," Truax said. "As a coach, that is all you ask for."
The BayRunners (10-21), who held 84-78 lead with five minutes left, were outscored 16-3 to end the game.
The decisive blow came in form of a three-pointer from Sasser with 43 seconds left that gave the Slam (21-13) a 92-87 lead. Sasser had made a baby hook shot the possession before. He finished with a game-high 25 points and 13 rebounds.
"Without rationalizing, I think that is just the difference between one team that has won 20 and the other team that has lost 20," Truax said. "I hope our team doesn't accept that. We have to be resilient and bounce back."
The major difference though for last night's BayRunners was the rebounding. They grabbed a season-high 60 rebounds, 12 more than their previous high.
Rebounding kept them in the game throughout despite shooting 39 percent from the floor. The BayRunners were in good shape at halftime, down 48-46 after shooting 35.8 percent for the half and going 0-for-6 from three-point land.
Truax used all 11 players dressed for the game at least four minutes, a far cry from deposed coach Herb Brown, whose rotation routinely consisted of eight or nine players.
The one who benefited most was Kurk Lee, who saw limited minutes under Brown. Reunited with his college coach at Towson, Lee played 25 minutes and scored 12 points.
New Mexico 22 26 20 26 -- 94
BayRunners 23 23 19 22 -- 87