Nov. 5, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--The returners provided poise while the newcomers looked promising in the University of New Mexico women's basketball 65-45 victory over New Mexico Highlands in exhibition action Saturday afternoon in front of 6,833 fans at The Pit.
First-year head coach Yvonne Sanchez went into Saturday's preseason contest not knowing exactly what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with how her Lobos handled the Cowgirls.
"I had no idea what to expect, I really didn't," Sanchez said. "We were playing a team that took New Mexico State in to overtime. We have a group of girls that hadn't played a game in a long time and had been through a lot in the course of six months. I'm really proud of that group; they did a nice job today."
Almost every Lobo scored a bucket to combine for a team shooting percentage of 40.4 on a 19-of-47 shooting effort.
Junior Caroline Durbin led the Lobos with 15 points, 13 of which came in the first half. Durbin was sharp and her experience showed as she capitalized on drives and drained jumpers, finishing 7-of-12 from the field. Durbin also added eight boards and led the team in time on the floor, playing 35 minutes.
Jayme Jackson provided energy for New Mexico at the point guard position, producing 10 points, two rebounds and one steal in 15 minutes of play.
Deeva Vaughn was a spark for the Lobos down in the post position. The junior college transfer had nine points and grabbed six rebounds. Lauren Taylor finished with eight points, while Nikki Nelson and Whitney Johnson each added six.
New Mexico had the advantage on the boards, edging the Cowgirls, 50-32. However, it was New Mexico Highlands bettering the Lobos in miscues, committing 18 to New Mexico's 20.
"We have to limit our turnovers," Durbin said. "Part of it was just nerves from the first game. It will get better, but we do have to take care of the ball, other than that I think we did well for it being the first game."
The Lobos found themselves down, 5-2, at just two minutes in to the game as the Cowgirls' junior guard Whitley Coca was able to score off a drive to the middle of the lane, and hit a three-pointer.
New Mexico was able to generate some offense over the next six minutes claiming the lead off layups from Durbin and Jackson, free throws from Whitney Johnson and another jumper from Jackson. At the 11:35 mark, the score was 11-5 in favor of the Lobos.
Coca kept New Mexico Highlands in the first half, as she was the only Cowgirl able to score in the first 12 and a half minutes of play. The point guard hit three treys, a layup and a free throw before New Mexico Highlands' Dominique Rivera drove the lane and made a layup at the 8:37 mark, cutting the Lobos' lead to one point, 14-15.
That was the closest the Cowgirls would come to New Mexico the rest of the game.
From there Durbin took over, scoring 11 points and propelling the Lobo offense to outscore the Cowgirls 14-8 in the final eight minutes of the half.
"In the heart of the first half when we went on our run, Caroline Durbin hit some nice shots," Sanchez said. "We had Porche Torrance out on the wing, Whitney Johnson was in the post and Jayme Jackson was running point. When they were out there I thought, `That's a great group out there, you can put them in and they'll really help each other out.'"
It was 35-22 in favor of New Mexico at intermission.
The Cowgirls weren't about to let New Mexico run away with the game, however, and put together a four-minute 7-1 run after UNM drained three from the charity stripe, cutting the Lobos' lead to nine, 39-30.
New Mexico quickly inbounded the ball to Jackson, who went coast-to-coast and snapped the Lobos back to offensive mode.
With 2:20 remaining in regulation, New Mexico had a 25-point advantage, 65-40. The Cowgirls' Alyssa Lopez was able to sneak a three-pointer and a layup before time expired, making the final 65-45.
"I like our defense," Sanchez said. "We held Highlands to 45 points and that was good. They had 11 offensive rebounds, which is something that we can probably cut back on, but I liked the fouls we had. We have to clean up the little things, but I thought we did well."
The Lobos head to the Lone Star state next week for a two-game road series. New Mexico will face Texas Tech at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, and takes on North Texas at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14.
New Mexico's home opener and Alumni Day is Saturday, Nov. 19. The Lobos play Oklahoma at 2 p.m. in The Pit.