Stevens: Lobos Hold On To Nip NMSU Aggies 54-53
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/04/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

**Note**  The Dec. 15 University of New Mexico women’s basketball game against Northern Colorado has been changed to a tip-off time of 6 p.m. mountain time.

The Thursday night game will be played in The Pit and is the last scheduled home event for the Lobo women’s squad in 2011. New Mexico will close out the 2011 calendar year with road trips to Houston Baptist, Arizona and Rio Grande rival New Mexico State.

Dec. 4, 2011

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Lobos 54, New Mexico State 53

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It was a game the Lobos tried to give away and the Aggies tried to snatch away, and then the Lobos changed their minds.

"We said, `Not this game. We are getting this game,'" said Lobo senior Lauren Taylor, whose winning free throw with 32 seconds to play proved to be the winning margin in New Mexico's thrilling 54-53 win over New Mexico State Sunday in The Pit.

The Lobos had a chance to make this an easy win for themselves and coach Yvonne Sanchez, but that just doesn't seem to be the way of the Lobos in 2011. They want last-second drama.

In the past two games, that drama turned against the Lobos in heartbreaking losses. On Sunday, the drama favored the Lobos - but just barely.

New Mexico had a nice 45-32 lead formed at the 11:15 mark of the second half when Taylor penetrated from near the top of the key and hit a 14-foot jumper. UNM hit only two field goals the rest of the game -- a huge trey by Taylor at 9:04 to push UNM up 48-40 and a layup by Porche Torranceto give UNM a 53-52 lead with 2:29 to go.

The Lobos' woes on offense plus a number of turnovers forced by the NMSU press produced a lot of drama and some scary moments for the Pit crowd of 7,551. The Aggies climbed out of their 45-35 hole to take a 52-48 lead with 5:19 to go. Then it turned into a dogfight.

A key moment for UNM - and NMSU - came after an Aggie miss and Taylor was bringing the ball down the court with under 40 seconds to play. Taylor said the plan was to get the ball past the half-court stripe and call a timeout.

Aggie Jasmine Rutledge, who had just missed a driving layup, never let Taylor or UNM get to that point. Amazingly, with the game tied at 53-all, Rutledge fouled Taylor about 45 feet from the basket and put one of the top free throw shooters in the West on the line.

"I felt great," Sanchez said of her feeling on that play. "In any situation, I'll have Lauren at the free-throw line 100 out of 100 times."

Taylor missed the first, but made the second one and UNM was guarding a one-point lead with 32 seconds to play. The Aggies stumbled around on offense, Porche Torrance created a turnover, and Jourdan Erskineended up with the ball with a single second to play.

Game over.

"That was a big one. That was huge," said Sanchez. "It was a fun game."

The Lobos ended the game with 18 turnovers, but too many came down the stretch when the Aggies threw on the pressure trying to get back into the game. NMSU had 23 turnovers.

"That's our Achilles Heel," said Sanchez of the press. "We have to keep working on it, working on it. We have to solve it. In the second half, we kind of panicked a little bit and they bumped up the pressure."

UNM shot 44.4 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from 3-point range. NMSU shot 48.8 percent and 62.5 percent from behind the line. NMSU won the board battle 29-22. Taylor led UNM with 13 points followed by Erskine with 11 and Torrance with 10.

Torrance added seven steals and five blocks. UNM's leading scorer, Caroline Durbin, scored only five points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field. The Aggies got 11 points from Tabytha Wampler, who fouled out with 3:55 to play.

"When she fouled out, that really boosted us up," Erskine said of Wampler going to the bench. "When they got frazzled, we saw that."