March 10, 2010
Mountain West Conference Tournament
Las Vegas -- Thomas & Mack Center
Wednesday: Utah 51, Lobos 45 (OT)
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
A Kalee Whipple shot probably had to drop sooner or later. It happened late -- in overtime -- and only once. It was a back-breaker.
Utah's ice-cold senior, 0-for-11 at that point, hit her first field goal of the game with 39 seconds to go to push Utah up 47-43. The Utes scratched their way out of the Las Vegas Thomas & Mack with a 51-45 win over New Mexico.
"I thought we did a great job on Whipple," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "She's 1-of-12. That's about as good as it gets. Then she hits the final three."
The Lobos' recent curse vs. the Utes lives on. Utah made it eight straight over the Lobos Wednesday with a grind-it-out Mountain West Conference Tournament win that ended the Lobos' regular-season, but probably not their postseason ride.
Flanagan said before his Lobos ventured to Las Vegas that his program had been contacted by the NIT and, if an invite follows, his Lobos will join that postseason party.
The Lobos' quarterfinal battle was part wrestling match, part scrum, kind of ugly and when the bodies quit banging, it was Utes who marched on to play the No. 1 seed TCU Horned Frogs. The game might not have been pretty, but it was a training film for fundamental defense and hold-your-breath intensity. These teams did not hold back any punches.
"It was a very competitive, hard-fought game," said Flanagan. "I thought defensively we did an excellent job. We gave up a few too many offensive rebounds and we got beat on a play that we had defended all game long."
The Lobos led 38-35 in regulation before Utah's Janita Badon banged in a 3-pointer with 1:07 to play to force the overtime period. Badon's shot was set up by a Utah offensive board by Whipple and it was in that department where Whipple did most of her damage to UNM.
The Utah senior finished the game with a career-high 16 rebounds to compensate for the five points she scored. Utah ourrebounded UNM, 40-31. Utah got 22 points inside from Taryn Wicijowski and 13 from Badon, a point guard.
The Lobos were paced by Eileen Weissmann with 15 points and Sara Halasz with 14. UNM's Amy Beggin had five points, seven boards and three assists. The Lobo senior was 1-of-11 from the floor. UNM got five points off its bench and shot 27.5 percent from the floor. Utah shot 35.1 percent. The Lobos finished the regular season at 18-12.
"Our poor shooting, shooting 22 percent the second half, we can't shoot in the 20s and beat people," said Flanagan. "Defensively I thought we played about as good as we could play. "When you look back at the game, it appears to me that shooting is the key and the reason why we didn't win that game."
Overtime -- Utah 13, Lobos 7
Utah grabbed the first lead, 40-38, on a Wicijowski bucket inside. The Lobos got a nice break when Jessica Kielpinski forced up a fadeaway trying to beat the shot clock. She pounded it off the glass and in -- and got fouled. Her foul shot rolled in and UNM was up 41-40.
Wicijowski scored again inside and got another two points from the line to make it 44-41 in Utah`s favor. UNM`s Beggin converted a one-and-one to make it 44-43. Whipple then hit her first field goal of the game, a trey with 39 seconds to play, and Utah was up 47-43.
UNM's Georonika Jackson got fouled on a drive with 30.1 seconds to go and made two free shots to cut Utah's lead to 47-45. Utah called a time out. UNM came out pressing and Badon sneaked behind the press, received the in-bounds pass, and raced away for a layup and a 49-45 Utah lead.
Beggin missed on a drive, Badon got the board, and was fouled with 15 seconds to go. That pretty much ended it. The Ute hit her free shots to form the 51-45 final.
Second Half -- Lobos 18, Utah 15
The Utes first bucket in the second half came inside from Wicijowski. She added a free throw to push Utah up 26-21. Beggin then cracked the scoreboard with a three to pull UNM to 26-24. That score held up for the first media break at 15:19.
The Lobos came out of that break with a Weissmann three and UNM was up 27-26. Utah got a bucket inside from Halie Sawyer to take a 28-27 lead into the 11:59 break. The second half started out much like the first half: two teams hammering each other on defense. Utah called at timeout with an even 10 minutes to play, up 31-27 off a Rachel Messer trey.
UNM cut into that Utah lead with a Halasz trey off a Beggin pass: 31-30. Whipple scored her first points of the game at the 8:34 mark with two free throws: 33-30. That 33-30 count held up for the 7:50 media break.
Utah jumped up 35-30 on a Wicijowski jumper. Weissmann jabbed back with two free throws: 35-32. At the 7:01 mark, UNM fell back into a zone. Utah called a quick timeout. UNM came out of the break sliding back into a man defense. Utah turned it over. Flanagan called a time with 5:30 to go, still down 35-32.
The Lobos came out in a soft, full-court press that changed the energy level in the pro-Lobo Thomas & Mack. The Lobos got back-to-back treys from Halasz and Weissmann and went up 38-35. Utah called a timeout. Utah came out of their huddle and turned over the ball on a shot-clock violation. At the 2:23 mark, Utah had the ball and called time, still down 38-35 -- a decent UNM margin in a game short on offense.
That Lobo margin disappeared on a Badon trey off a Whipple rebound and pass. It was 38-all.
"If we would have come up with that rebound, we had a chance to win," said UNM's Beggin. "I think it's just a bounce that's gone their way every time we played them."
Beggin came down and turned the ball over on a drive. Utah had the ball and called time with 20.8 seconds to play and the shot clock off. Whipple, 0-of-10 at that point, got a decent look on a drive, but showed no touch off the glass. She ended regulation 0-of-11 and the teams marched into a five-minute overtime.
First Half -- Utah 23, Lobos 20
The stats from two of the top two players in the league, UNM's Beggin and Utah's Whipple, were the biggest surprise of the first 20 minutes. Beggin went 0-for-5 with no points. Whipple went 0-for-5 for no points. The mobile Ute did have three assists and seven boards.
The teams took turns scrambling into small leads. Utah went up 4-0 and UNM went up 15-10 before Utah carried its 3-point lead into the half. Utah went 0-of-6 from the 3-point line. Utah countered with 20 points in the paint to 10 for the Lobos. UNM was 3-of-3 from long range, but the Lobos were outrebounded 19-14. Neither team did much out of transition. It was a half dominated by defense.
The Utes jumped up 4-0 before a 7-0 Lobo run allowed UNM to control the scoreboard, 9-6, going into the first media break. The Lobos got a 3-pointer and a follow from Halasz and four points inside on drives by Weissmann. At the 11:47 media break, nothing had changed. It was still 9-6 with both teams playing solid defense and missing pressured shots.
The two rivals continued to play good defense, but the Lobos managed to toss in a couple of bombs and went up 15-10 at the 7:48 mark. UNM got a 3-pointer from Weissman and a trey from Kielpinski to grab that five-point lead.
Utah's Wicijowski then went to work inside for the Utes. She scored six unanswered points to carry Utah out of a 16-12 hole into an 18-16 lead. UNM's Valerie Kast ended that run with a 12-foot turnaround and the teams were knotted 18-all going into the final media break at 3:08.
Wicijowski scored on a post move and added a foul shot to push Utah up 23-18. UNM got a layup on an in-bounds play to form the 23-20 halftime score.