Stevens: Best, Patterson Key Lobo Rally In 64-59 Win Over Air Force
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/02/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 2, 2011

Complete Media Book: New Mexico 64, Air Force 59 Get Acrobat Reader

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Lobo Women's Basketball - In The Pit
Lobos 64, Air Force 59

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Maybe destiny simply has decided that the Air Force Falcons will never beat the Lobos in The Pit.

If so, destiny got a lot of help Wednesday night from Lobo senior Amanda Best and freshman Jasmine Patterson.

The Falcons led for almost 19 minutes in the second half, before turning the ball over on a shot-clock violation that led to a driving layup by UNM's Patterson to hand the Lobos their first lead of the second half at 60-59.

The Falcons then turned the ball over again on a Best steal that put the cool senior at the line with 33 seconds to play. Best made them both as the Lobos held on for the 64-59 Mountain West Conference win.

A Patterson steal and a layup by Porche Torrance with two ticks to play sealed the win for UNM. Best had a monster game for the Lobos with 15 points, eight assists, and nine rebounds in 40 minutes of play.

"That's a heck of a night for anybody," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "I think that was her best game. She has a little bout of the flu and I never took her out."

The win pushed UNM's mark to 8-12 overall and raised them to 2-6 in Mountain West play, tied with Air Force at 2-6. "It was hard fought," said Flanagan. "I went to a smaller lineup and that seemed to disturb them a little bit. It was a huge win."

The Lobos' rally prevented UNM from falling below Air Force in the MWC race and prevented Air Force from winning its first-ever game in The Pit and its second-ever game against UNM. The Lobos lead the all-time series 29-1 and are riding a 29-game win streak against Air Force.

Best was joined in double figures by Jessica Kielpinski with 13 points, Lauren Taylor with 11, and Torrance with 10 points and six boards. Patterson had nine points and three steals.

"We're just happy with this win, our offense was very stagnant tonight," said Best.

Air Force got 16 points from Megan Muniz and 13 points from Dymond James. UNM shot 52.2 percent from the floor to 41.2 percent for Air Force. The Falcons went 8-of-17 from 3-point range to 4-of-10 for the Lobos. UNM got 27 points off the bench to 19 for Air Force.

"We have to do a better job with our offense," said Flanagan. "We are stagnant at times and that's something at this point of the season we shouldn't have happen.

"We didn't play a game of beauty tonight, but we have been gritty. A lot of it has to do with our offense sputtering. Sometimes it looks like we don't know what play we're running, so from now on I'm going to have to try and keep it simple."

Flanagan said the drive by Patterson that led to UNM's first lead of the second half was basically telling the other Lobos to get out of the way and let the quick freshman go to the glass.

Second Half: Lobos 38, Air Force 30

The game that resembled a couple of boxers exchanging punches stayed that way in the second half. However, the Falcons managed to land a few more blows at the 15:25 mark and held a 41-36 lead at that media break.

Air Force went up 43-36 before Patterson hit two free throws to make it 43-38. The Falcons then went up by nine points, 47-38, on two free throws by Muniz. The Lobos threw up five unanswered points to keep the Falcons from flying away. Taylor scored on a layup and Patterson hit a trey to make it 47-43. A Taylor trey made it 50-46 in Air Force's favor.

The teams exchanged a couple of baskets with Taylor scoring on a layup at 7:10 to cut Air Force's gap to 52-48. The Falcons got a jumper from Meganee O'Neil to hand Air Force a 54-48 lead at the 6:29 break.

The Lobos still had plenty of time to take control of the game, but needed to get some defensive stops. A drive by Falcon Dymond James pushed Air Force up 56-49. The Lobos then threw out a little run. Caroline Durbin knocked in a trey and Best scored on a layup to pull the Lobos to 56-54. Best was fouled on the play at the 3:55 mark, but missed the free one.

Air Force's James scored inside to make it 58-54 and Torrance answered with a follow to cut the Falcons' lead to 58-56. Patterson hit two free throws at 2:25 to form a 58-58 tie.

The Falcons' got a single free throw at 2:11 from Katie Hilbig to go up 59-58. UNM's Durbin missed the front end of a one-and-one at 1:56. Air Force failed to take advantage of that miss by turning the ball over on a shot-clock violation. Air Force called time with 1:25 to play with the ball in Lobo hands.

The Lobos brought the ball in looking at a soft Air Force trap. UNM broke it and Patterson drove and scored at 1:03 to hand UNM its first lead of the half: 60-59. UNM's Best then came up big on defense by coming up with a steal. She was quickly fouled and the Lobo senior hit two free throws to push UNM up 62-59.

The Lobos' defense again came up big with perimeter pressure that forced Air Force's Kelsey Berger to throw up a long air ball.

Air Force stole the ball on the in-bounds pass by Taylor, but Patterson stole it back and fed Torrance for a layup to seal the UNM win: 64-59.

"We had to press and we had to play four guards today, and even pressing didn't seem to work all that well," said Flanagan. "But it at least slowed Air Force down a little bit.

"They shot the ball very well and they drove well, they're really an aggressive team who was inspired after coming off of a big win after TCU. I thought we did okay defensively, but many times late they were able to drive on us.

"Not only were they able to do that, but I thought they got the shot they wanted most of the time when they were running their offense."

First Half: Air Force 29, Lobos 26
Lobo Stat Leaders:
Best 10 pts., Kielpinski 9 pts.

The first half was a see-saw affair with Air Force finally outlasting New Mexico on the scoreboard by three points - 29-26. The Lobos shot a sizzling 55 percent (11-of-20) from the floor to 47.4 percent (9-19) for the Falcons.

Air Force's edge came from 3-point range where it shot 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) and at the free-throw line where the Falcons were 6-of-8. The Lobos were 1-4 from long range and 3-3 from the line.

Air Force grabbed the first lead at 2-0 and went up 5-2, 8-4 and 11-6 before Kielpinski used an old-fashioned 3-point play to push the Lobos up 13-12. UNM's Amanda Best hit two free throws at 10:03 to hand her Lobos a 15-12 lead.

Air Force then scratched to an 18-15 lead before buckets by Best and Tina Doughty (trey) gave UNM a 20-18 lead. The Lobos lost the lead 24-22 on a 3-pointer by Air Force's Megan Muniz. The Falcons went up 27-22 on a trey by Kelsey Berger and held on for a 29-26 halftime lead.