Feb. 11, 2009
Wednesday: Lobos 79, Air Force 33
Up Next: Lobos vs. BYU, 6 p.m., The Pit
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
A feel-good win? For sure. When you snap a three-game losing skid with a 46-point romp & roll, what's not to feel good about?
It was a perfect game in many ways simply because the University of New Mexico Lobos needed a rush and a gush of confidence. And they got it.
Every Lobo scored, every Lobo got a rebound, every Lobo logged double-digit minutes of playing time, and the 79-33 romp over Air Force handed UNM coach Don Flanagan his 300th win as a Lobo.
"I just wanted to win a game," said Flanagan, referring to the three-game losing skid the win Wednesday night snapped. "I wasn't even thinking about 300. It's a nice honor, but at the same time I'm glad we don't have to go through that (waiting) again."
What Flanagan was thinking about was win No. 17 overall and win No. 6 in the Mountain West Conference, which is what UNM's ledger (17-6, 6-4) flipped to after the Pit roll of Air Force. Flanagan is 300-132 in 14 seasons at UNM.
"It was very nice to get coach his 300th win and it was very nice just to get a win and get our groove back," said UNM's Eileen Weissmann.
If the Lobos' groove is indeed back, it's nice timing. The Brigham Young Cougars step into The Pit on Tuesday and UNM is chasing the Cougars and three other teams in the MWC race. The Lobos also have demanding road trips ahead of them at Utah, at San Diego State and at TCU.
"I think this will give us some momentum," said Flanagan. "We certainly are talented enough to make a run."
The Lobos ended the Air Force game early with smooth offense and nasty defense that produced a 41-11 halftime lead. The second half was merely a formality in forming the final score and allowing Flanagan to continue to go deep into his bench.
"It was nice to be able to play lots of people," said Flanagan. "I thought many of the players played very well. I could mention a whole bunch of them, but just about everyone played well."
The Lobos had four players in double figures: Georonika Jackson and Weissmann with 12, Amy Beggin with 11 and Angela Hartill with 10. Weissman paced UNM on the board work with eight. Beggin and Amanda Adamson had five assists. Beggin, Sara Halasz and Valerie Kast had two steals apiece. Kast added two blocks and two assists in 10 minutes of play.
The Lobos had 10 steals, 25 assists and six turnovers. Flanagan was particularly pleased with the Falcons' shooting percentage: 18 percent overall, 11.5 percent in the first half. "They were 9-of-50, so I thought we did a good job," said Flanagan. "I was happy with the poise that we played with."
Said Jackson: We just played great team defense tonight."
The deep use of the bench was reflected in playing time numbers. Beggin, who had averaged 36.5 minutes, led that chart with 26, as no Lobo saw more than 30 minutes. UNM got 33 points off the bench.
"In February, teams seem to get tired," said Flanagan. "I think it's important that we get players some playing time, some confidence."
The Lobos opened the game shooting 7-of-8 from the field. The Lobos slowly drifted away and were up 19-8 going into a media timeout at 10:59. UNM was 9-of-16 at that mark with Hartill and Halasz leading the way with six points apiece and both shooting 3-of-4 from the field.
UNM came out of the timeout and Air Force missed a back-door layup which was followed by a Jackson trey from the left baseline. UNM was up 22-8. Jackson slipped loose underneath for a Beggin-fed layup to make it 24-8. Beggin hit a trey and UNM was up 17 points, 27-10.
Adamson found Jessica Kielpinski open on a cut for a layup and going into the final media timeout of the half at 3:56, UNM was cruising at 34-11. The Lobos turned that into a fat 41-11 halftime lead with Nikki Nelson getting the final UNM points at the line.
The Lobos had ten players in the scoring column in the first half with Jackson leading the way with eight points. Weissmann had five rebounds and three assists.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner