Stevens: Lobos To Play Miami For Hurricane Title
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/28/2013

New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – At Miami Hurricanes Holiday Tournament – Coral Gables, Fla.

Saturday:  New Mexico 56, Western Carolina 37; Miami 80, Morgan State 42

Sunday:  1 p.m. (MT), New Mexico vs. Miami; 11 a.m., Western Carolina vs. Morgan State

On The Air:  610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend

GoLobos.com:  Game Story, Full Box

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.co

The Yvonne Sanchez Lobos are where they want to be – in the championship game of the Miami Hurricanes’ Holiday Tournament.

But the next Holiday package and press the Lobos have to open and crack is a tough one.  “We know how hard it is going to be (to beat Miami), but we came here to be in the championship game,” said Sanchez. “It’s nice to be able to compete for the championship”

The New Mexico Lobos toughened up on both ends of the court Saturday in Coral Gables, Fla., to rally from a seven-point first-half deficit into a solid 56-37 romp over Western Carolina.

The Lobos might need to double up on that toughness Sunday in the title game as they advance to play an athletic and aggressive Miami team that pounded Morgan State 80-42.

“We’re going to see if we can stop a very, very good Miami team,” said Sanchez. “They are scary good. They are scary athletic. Miami has great offensive rebounding and we have to block them out.  We can’t make it a jumping contest.”

The Hurricanes pestered and pressed Morgan State into 31 turnovers, hauled down 22 offensive rebounds, and powered inside to get 27 points and 23 rebounds from the forward combo formed by 6-foot-1 Keyona Hayes and 6-2 Jassany Williams.  That pair combined for 11 offensive boards.

The Hurricanes are not a tall team, but they come at their enemies with a wave of quickness and aggression.  They got the 38-point win over Morgan State with Miami’s leading scorer, Caprice Dennis, not playing.  Miami used eight players in advancing its season record to 7-4.

The Lobos had early problems with Western Carolina, but rolled past the Catamounts in the second half outscoring them 38-to-17.

“We did a nice job of ramping up our defense,” said Sanchez.  “(At the half) we talked about knocking shots down. We talked about relaxing, staying positive and making shots. We have a lot of people who played well.  To hold them to 17 points in the second half is a credit to our defense.  I really like what they (Lobos) did.”

The first half leaned toward Western Carolina (20-18), but the Lobos swamped the Catamounts in the second half shooting 53.3 percent in the second 20 minutes.  UNM ended the game shooting 39.3 percent.  UNM’s Antiesha Brown was an early spark for UNM in the second half as she made her first five shots.

Brown scored 14 points, but Sara Halasz topped UNM’s scoring chart with 15 points.  Halasz also had eight rebounds as did Alexa Chavez, off the bench.  Khadijah Shumpert had eight points, six boards and three blocked shots.

A key for UNM against Miami is breaking the Hurricanes press and not having empty possessions (no shots) on the offensive end.  UNM had 17 turnovers against a less aggressive Western Carolina team.

 The Hurricanes advanced to the title game of their Holiday Tournament with an 80-42 romp over Morgan State. Miami used a press to help force 31 turnovers and held Morgan State to 30 percent shooting.  The Hurricanes shot 40.8 percent from the floor, but put up 26 more shots than Morgan State.

Miami had five players in double figures led by Keyona Hayes with 17 points and 10 boards.  Jassany Williams had 10 points and 13 boards. Miami had 16 steals but shot only 16.7 percent from 3-point range going 5-of-30.

UNM came out of its locker room down 20-18 to Western Carolina and two buckets by Brown handed UNM a 22-20 lead.  Brown stayed hot making her first four shots of the half to push UNM up 26-24. A bucket by Halasz handed UNM a 28-24 lead and Western Carolina called for a timeout at the 16:47 mark.  They needed to figure out a way to slow down Brown.  The Lobos were 5-of-6 from the floor at that mark.

Brown came out of the UNM huddle and hit her first field goal to make it 30-27 in the Lobos’ favor.  Brown was 5-of-5 from the floor in the second half.  At the 10:40 break, UNM was up 36-31. UNM was 0-for-11 from 3-point range but scoring well in close.

The Lobos got a huge 3-pointer from Halasz to go up 41-31 heading under the six-minute mark. That Halasz trey was UNM’s first of the game (1-of-13).   Bryce Owens made it two treys in a row to give UNM a 44-33 lead.  The Lobos coasted in for the final 56-37 win.

First Half:  Western Carolina 20, New Mexico 18

The Lobos had shooting woes in the first half gunning at a 25.8 percentage overall and going 0-of-8 from 3-point range.  Alexa Chavez led UNM with four points off the bench.  Keller led the UNM starters with three points.   UNM won the board battle 22-to-20 and both teams had eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.  The UNM starters combined to go 4-of-21 from the floor.

The Catamounts have leaned on their bench depth most of the season and got that in the first half vs. New Mexico.  The Western Carolina starters scored eight points and the bench produced 12 points led by Campbell with six points.

The Catamounts shot 40 percent from the field going 2-of-5 from 3-point range

The Lobos jumped up 2-0 on a bucket by Khadijah Shumpert and led 9-8 on a layup by Alexa Chavez.  The Catamounts then controlled the scoreboard and led by seven points twice: 16-9 and 18-11.

The Lobos fought into an 18-18 tie on a jumper by Antiesha Brown but Western Carolina got a put-back bucket at the close of the half to form the Catamounts’ two-point halftime lead.