Jan. 30, 2012
AYBL NIGHT: AYBL players can get into Tuesday night's Lobo women's basketball game vs. Air Force for $4 by either wearing their team jersey or by bringing a copy of the attached flyer:
New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit
Tuesday: 6 p.m. (MT), Air Force Falcons (5-16, 0-6) at New Mexico Lobos (6-14, 0-6)
On The Air: The Mtn-TV; 610-AM KNML
GoLobos.com: Game Recap, Final Stats, GameTracker
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Really, it is a pride thing. Really, it has meaning even though a New Mexico win or an Air Force win won't make any major rumblings in the Mountain West standings.
But there is something at stake - smiles and frowns -- the Mountain West cellar, too.
The winner of Tuesday's MW clash between Lobos and Falcons will not finish the first half of the MW race winless. The loser drops to 0-7. That's a big "ouch."
Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez tries to downplay the significance of this clash between 0-6 Lobos and 0-6 Falcons and that's something a coach should do because she wants her Lobos to go into the fray relaxed and loose. But her Lobos need a win.
"Nobody likes to be (winless) in conference and we certainly don't like to either," said the first-year Lobo head coach. "But I don't want to make it a must-win, must-win, must-win."
In general terms, there isn't much difference between being 1-6 and 0-7. The Mountain West race is going on somewhere above you. But there are psyches and egos to think about.
There is the difference between smiles and frowns on Lobos and Lobo fans.
"I just want the players to get (the win)," said Sanchez. "It would be a great, personal thing, if I see those players celebrating a win. They deserve it. I want them to feel that.
"And our crowd is fantastic. They deserve it just as much as those kids do."
On paper, it looks like the win should come to UNM. The Lobos have been competitive in most of their Mountain West games. The Falcons have been blown out 73-39 at Colorado State and 98-36 at Wyoming. Air Force lost at home by 22 to a TCU team the Lobos chased to the wire in Fort Worth.
There also is history on UNM's side. The Lobos are 30-1 vs. Air Force and haven't lost to the Falcons since the 1991-92 season.
Lobo Caroline Durbin says, ""We're not thinking, `Oh, we can't lose.' But I think it's a must-win to get some momentum going. We need to get a win streak going."
The Mountain West race on the women's side of the hill appears to be between 6-0 San Diego State and 5-1 UNLV with TCU and Colorado State on the outside at 5-2. But there is seeding to consider for the upcoming Mountain West Tournament and there is momentum to ride into that Vegas tourney.
It's difficult to have any momentum without any wins. Sanchez believes the Lobos can find momentum with improved play in the second half of the MW race and also leaning a bit on The Pit.
The Lobos have four Pit games and three road games in the second half of the MW season.
"Our fans have been terrific and I think that gives us an advantage," said Sanchez. "We like home.
"It's also about getting better as a team. We're right there and now it's get over the hump and finish the game."
The Falcons will come at the Lobos with purpose and fight, but this is not a team blessed with blazing speed or towering height. The Falcons list only one player on an 18-player roster, who stands taller than 6-foot. That's 6-2 Megan O'Neil, who averages 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.
The Falcons' starting lineup goes 5-11, 5-9, 5-10, 5-9 and 5-5.
"They are a little bit smaller," said Sanchez. "But they do a nice job in the post. (Dymond) James is very good in the post. They go really, really hard and crash the boards really well. They do a lot of things that concern us."
The 5-10 James will step into The Pit with a 12.8 scoring average complemented by a 7.0 rebounding average. She averages 15.2 points in league games. Air Force is led in scoring overall by Alicia Leipprandt with a 13.8 average.
The Air Force might have a slight edge in depth as 11 Falcons play 12 minutes or more.
"We're excited to get this win," said Durbin. "We are ready to go." Said Sanchez: "They (Lobos) are not happy with losing. That's good for me and it's a good sign because I know they care. They really want it and I know they are hungry for it."
Yep, it will be ravenous Lobos vs. ravenous Falcons.
NEW MEXICO LOBOS 2011-12 ROSTER/STATS
|Probable Starters||HT||Position||Season Statistics|
|12 - Nikki Nelson||5-5||Guard||5.1 Pts. - 2.6 Asts.|
|11 - Lauren Taylor||6-0||Guard||7.3 Pts. - 1.3 Rebs.|
|24 - Caroline Durbin||6-0||Guard||15.1 Pts. - 4.1 Rebs.|
|23 - Porche Torrance||6-1||Wing||10.4 Pts. - 8.7 Rebs.|
|21 - Jayme Jackson||5-7||Guard||5.8 Pts. - 2.3 Rebs.|
|The NM Bench||HT||Position||Season Statistics|
|14 - Jourdan Erskine||6-2||Wing||5.4 Pts. - 6.4 Rebs.|
|35 - Chinyere Nnaji||6-0||Post||2.2 Pts. - 3.8 Rebs.|
|43 - Emily Stark||6-5||Post||1.3 Pts. - 1.2 Rebs.|
|44 - Deeva Vaughn||6-0||Wing||6.2 Pts. - 4.3 Rebs.|
|41 - Jamie Parker||5-9||Wing||1.0 Pts. -- 0.5 Rebs.|
|33 - Maddie Muraida||6-2||Post||0.4 Pts. - 1.1 Rebs.|
|25 - Ashley Rhoades||6-2||Post||0.6 Pts. - 1.3 Rebs.|