ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Playing without their top scorer yesterday, the BayRunners nearly pulled off their third road victory of the International Basketball League season.
Instead, New Mexico's inspired second-half defense pushed the BayRunners to their 14th consecutive loss, 102-98.
"It was a pretty good ballgame," said BayRunners coach Terry Truax, whose team took control early, jumping out to an 11-3 lead. "New Mexico's playing very well."
The Slam, which never led until the second half, tied the score for the first time at 41 after Jason Sasser capped a 6-0 run with four unanswered points.
Less than 20 seconds later, Monty Wilson hit a three-pointer to give the BayRunners the lead again, and successive Slam turnovers helped the BayRunners rebuild their lead to seven.
Kurk Lee hit a three-pointer with 7.7 seconds left in the half to help the BayRunners take a 58-47 lead into intermission.
Sasser scored six points during the Slam's 18-4 run to open the second half, and New Mexico never trailed again.
This time, it was the BayRunners playing catch-up, and they tied the score at 80 three minutes into the final period.
The score was tied for the final time at 94.
After Sasser's basket with 1: 28 left gave the Slam a 99-96 lead, the BayRunners began fouling in an attempt to gain a tie or take the lead.
The ploy nearly worked, as Andre Perry, Sasser and then Keith Carter each made one of two free throws. But New Mexico still finished with a big edge at the free-throw line, outscoring the BayRunners 28-11.
"I guess we were too physical," Truax said. "I want our kids to keep playing aggressively."
Rodney Elliott, who leads the BayRunners with 14.8 scoring average and is second in rebounding at 5.5, missed the game with an injured ankle and is game-to-game, Truax said.
Lee led the BayRunners with a game-high 27 points, Anthony Tucker and Wilson scored 13 apiece and Shawnta Rogers added 12. Tucker also had a game-high 14 rebounds.