March 6, 2004
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Senior Melissa Forest posted 20 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks in her final regular season home game to lead red-hot New Mexico past Colorado State, 59-52, in front of 17,472 this afternoon at The Pit. With the win, UNM (20-7, 12-2 MWC) claimed at least a share of the Mountain West Conference regular season title with Utah and will be the No. 1 seed next week at the MWC Tournament in Denver. The Lobos won their eighth straight game and captured their first league title since sharing the 1998-99 Western Athletic Conference Pacific crown.
New Mexico shook off a sluggish first half, making several second half runs at Colorado State (17-10, 8-6 MWC) before sophomore Abbie Letz helped the Lobos finally break through with a furious rally late in the game. With the Rams leading 47-41 at the 5:10 mark, Letz knocked down back-to-back threes to tie the game. Following a Forest bucket, Letz scored again to give UNM a four-point advantage, 51-47, with 2:48 to play.
CSU missed a critical scoring opportunity when forward Joy Jenkins, an 80 percent free throw shooter, missed two of three free throw attempts with 1:34 remaining. The Rams hurt themselves again on the ensuing in-bounds play when center Lindsey Thomas was whistled for a technical foul after knocking Letz to the ground. Lobo point guard Mandi Moore hit the pair of technical free throws to push the UNM lead to five, 53-48. Colorado State twice cut the lead to three in the final minute of play, but New Mexico went 8-8 from the free throw stripe to secure the victory.
New Mexico jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead three minutes into the game before the Rams battled back, scoring eight unanswered points to forge a 10-8 lead. The two teams traded blows over the next eight minutes with UNM taking a one point advantage, 15-14, on a Forest three.
The Lobos, however, went ice cold down the stretch, hitting just one field goal in the final 9:19. Meanwhile, Jenkins scored 13 straight, including three three-pointers, to help CSU outscore New Mexico 14-2 over the nine-minute span en route to a 28-17 halftime lead. UNM hit just four of its final 20 field goals and shot 26 percent (7-27) for the half.
Jenkins, however, scored just one point in the final 20 minutes, finishing with 14 on the afternoon. CSU forward Melissa Dennett led the Rams with 17 points, while Letz (14), Lindsey Arndt (10) and Moore (10) joined Forest in double figures for New Mexico.
UNM opens MWC Tournament play against eighth seed Air Force on Wednesday, March 10 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.