Dec. 30, 2010
Lobo Women's Basketball -- In The Pit
Thursday: 7 p.m., Lobos vs. New Mexico State
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By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In the "get-off-to-a-good-start" department, the New Mexico Lobos are already halfway there when it comes to the New Mexico State Aggies.
The Lobos slapped down the Aggies 58-49 in a surprisingly easy cruise over the Madison Spence-less Aggies in Cruces. The Lobos hammered NMSU 45-27 on the boards, held them to 27.8 percent shooting, and beat down the Aggies for the 28th time in the past 29 games in a game.
Which means Lobo Lauren Taylor's description of the Aggies for tonight's Pit game probably is right on. Taylor says NMSU will be "bloodthirsty" for the Lobos.
Probably so, but will the Aggies be healthy enough to turn into mean and nasty vampires as they go for Lobo throats in The Pit? Spence is back and that's good for the Aggies because she probably is the most complete Aggie player and a deadeye gun from the edge.
But the Aggies expect to be without two others starters tonight as Danisha Corbett and Camila Rosen sit the bench nursing knee injuries. Corbett was a pain for UNM to stop in the Pan American Center as she "quicked" her way to 22 points in 36 minutes. Rosen did not score in that Cruces' game.
So getting Spence back and losing Corbett might look like a wash on the stats' sheet, but that doesn't necessarily mean tonight's game will mirror the one played in Cruces on Dec. 1. Taylor again: "I think it's going to be a different game."
The motivation factor shouldn't change. Lobos want to beat Aggies. Aggies want to beat Lobos. "It's going to be a battle from the start to the end," said Lobo Porche Torrance.
For sure, the Aggies will be stressing the glass and looking to cut into that huge edge that the Lobos formed in Cruces behind 15 boards by Amanda Best, nine by Torrance and eight by Jessica Kielpinski.
"This is going to be a block-out game," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "Whoever wins the rebounding is probably going to win the game.
"You don't want to give them more possessions because they have a lot of kids who can score. They are going to crash the boards and we are going to try to keep them off the boards.."
The Aggies also will be looking to be more disciplined in their shot selection and raise that lowly percentage (27.8) they shot in Cruces. The Aggies are infamous for forcing up bad shots, but Spence gives the Aggies a disciplined gun that has the ability to score in many ways.
"She is a complete player," said Flanagan. "She is smart with the ball, an effective scorer, and also a good passer. She adds another shooter."
Lobo Torrance has a solid plan for stopping Spence: "Don't let her shoot. Don't let her drive."
Spence missed the Lobo game in Cruces while recovering from a concussion. She sat out five games, but looked sharp against Utah scoring 17 points while going 3-of-3 from 3-point range. The Aggies list Spence as their point guard, but the talented senior also will play an off-guard spot, depending on the NMSU lineup.
If Corbett and Rosen don't make the court for NMSU, the Aggies might give the point to 5-7 Jasmine Lowe. UNM has a difficult match-up inside with 6-1 Tabytha Wampler, who averages 14.1 points and 9.2 rebounds. When the Aggies attack out of their four-guard lineup, Wampler is the go-to player inside.
Another key for UNM is finding a Lobo who will stand close to Spence the whole game. "We had Amy Beggin on her for three years," said Flanagan. "Amy crowded her and she never had a great game against us. We are gong to have to get someone who is really going to focus on her."
Flanagan also is hoping his Lobos get off to a good start, like they did against the Aggies in Cruces.
"It's important for us to play hard right away," said Flanagan. "We've had a couple of games where we didn't do that and tried to play catch-up and we weren't successful. We need to execute right away. It`s kind of like we give up a 10-ponit lead and then say , `OK, now we have to go hard.' We can't do that."
Flanagan says NMSU's outside shooting makes them a difficult team to zone. And sometimes it's easier to block out and rebound coming out of a man-to-man defense. A strong Lobo rebounding game will cut down on additional possessions by the Aggies and solid rebounding will cut down on the NMSU transition game.
"You really have to be conscious of the three-point shot and they are very good in transition," said the Lobo coach. "They get the ball down the floor. They shoot it quickly and then they gang rebound.."
The Lobos will have a depth edge in this game, especially if Corbett and Rosen sit. "I`m pretty confident I can play eight or nine kids and they can all play at a good level," said Flanagan.
The Lobos and the Aggies combine for a 2-7 mark since their meeting in Cruces. The Lobos lead the NMSU series, 41-26 and haven't lost in The Pit since 1995. The Lobos come into the game on a four-game losing skid with losses to Arizona State, Arizona, Oklahoma and UTEP.
The Lobos are looking for a win over the Aggies to carry UNM into its Mountain West opener in The Pit on Jan. 8 vs. Wyoming.