Jan. 19, 2011
By Chelsea Einerwold, Writer/GoLobos.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-- The University of New Mexico women's basketball team dropped a Mountain West Conference game to Utah, 56-53, Wednesday night in The Pit. The Lobos are now 6-10 on the season and 0-4 in the MWC. The Utes improved to 10-9 overall and 3-2 in league play.
It was a close game that included seven ties and eight lead changes. The Lobos used gritty defense and some key shots late in the second half to hang close to Utah.
New Mexico was within one point, 54-53, following a Jasmine Patterson three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining.
To regain possession, the Lobos fouled Rachel Messer who went to the free throw line for a one-and-one. Messer missed the first and Jessica Kielpinski nabbed the board.
Senior Amanda Best brought the ball up the floor where she called a timeout in front of New Mexico's bench.
With 21.7 seconds in regulation and still down by one point, the Lobos inbounded the ball and were able to find Morgan Toben open just behind the arc on the left wing. Toben was able to get a good look, but the shot rimmed out and the Utes' Michelle Plouffe secured the rebound.
Plouffe was fouled with :07 on the clock and made two free throws to make the score 56-53 Utes.
The Lobos brought the ball up, but couldn't get a good look.
"I thought it was a pretty good shot...I thought it was in," Lobo Head Coach Don Flanagan said of Toben's look. "A lot of times the hardest thing to do with kids is hope that they have the courage to shoot that last shot."
New Mexico's Lauren Taylor led all scorers with 21 points, including a career-high 13 free throws. Freshman Jasmine Patterson added 11 points and junior Porche Torrance had a career-high five steals and a team-high three blocks.
"We ran an offense that I felt would give us the opportunity to get some fouls," Flanagan said. "Lauren was the hardest driver out there and she hit her free throws, I just didn't get anybody else that was doing that."
The Utes were led by Michelle Plouffe's double-double performance of 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Utah outrebounded the Lobos 43-30. They also shot 37.5 percent compared to the Lobos'30.4 percent.
New Mexico Head Coach Don Flanagan was disappointed in his team's offensive performance, but was able to find positives from the other end of the floor.
"Again, our main problem is shooting," Flanagan said. "We're not shooting well enough to win games."
Defensively New Mexico had 12 steals and caused 16 Utah turnovers. They also held the Utes' top scorers--Iwalani Rodrigues 14.7 points per game and Janita Badon 13.5 points per game--to five and 10 points, respectively.
"We used a zone against them and I felt like we played it pretty well," Flanagan said. "However, we've got to get tougher. They were more physical than us. We can't get pushed around by other teams. I really like these kids, but they've got to get tougher."
Taylor added that Wednesday night's game was frustrating--losing by just three points to Utah, a team New Mexico hasn't beat since Jan. 23, 2008.
"It's tough," she said. "I didn't want to start out the conference 0-4. It's a big hole to come out of, but there's always the tournament.
"We need to keep working from here and find that little extra oomph to get those last couple points."
New Mexico is back in action at 2 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 22 as they take on UNLV at home in The Pit. Saturday's contest is Pack the Pit, and fans can purchase tickets for just $4.