Dec. 6, 2003
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Sarah Burgess and Cristina Ciocan combined for 37 points to lead the University of South Carolina to a 69-52 victory over New Mexico in the championship game of the Southwest Airlines Lobo Shootout tonight at The Pit. South Carolina (6-1) won its sixth straight game, while UNM fell to 5-2. Lauren McLeod scored a career-high 15 points for New Mexico, which failed to capture the tournament title for just the fourth time in the 10-year history of the Lobo Shootout.
UNM committed a season-high 17 turnovers and for the first time this year, was unable to overcome its spotty shooting. The Lobos hit just 32.8 percent from the floor, shooting under 40 percent for the fourth time this year. Remarkably, UNM had been 3-0 in those games entering the night.
Burgess scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in a decisive seven-minute stretch that saw the Gamecocks outscore the Lobos 21-9 to break open a back-and-forth contest. The lead changed hands five times in the first nine minutes of the second half before South Carolina knocked down several critical shots to take control of the game. New Mexico missed all six three-point attempts in the second half, after hitting 4-11 in the first period.
Ciocan finished with 18 points and five assists en route to Tournament MVP honors.
New Mexico got off to a sluggish start, hitting just four of its first 14 attempts (28.6%) from the floor as sharp-shooting South Carolina built a 10-point lead, 22-12, ten minutes into the game. The Gamecocks hit 10 of 15 (66.7%) to start, but then missed four of their next five shots as UNM surged back.
McLeod scored seven points as the Lobos outscored South Carolina 13-2 over the next seven minutes. Abbie Letz knocked down a pair of free throws to give New Mexico its first lead, 25-24, with 3:25 remaining in the half.
Earlier in the evening, Southern Utah (4-2) defeated Tennessee State (0-5), 83-40, in the consolation game.
New Mexico travels to California on Dec. 11 to take on the University of San Francisco in its first road game of the year. The Lobos return to The Pit on Dec. 14 to face interstate rival New Mexico State.