Nov. 26, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Oklahoma State was dominating the rebounding and freshman Shaunte Smith was picking apart New Mexico's defense.
Coach Don Flanagan decided it was time to challenge his No. 25 Lobos.
"He talked to us about who wanted it more. He always makes sure we have the desire to win," sophomore Dionne Marsh said. "We had to get tough, inside especially."
Marsh took Flanagan's words to heart and to the court. She scored 14 points and made four free throws in the final 37 seconds as New Mexico rallied for a 56-52 win over Oklahoma State in the championship game of the University of New Mexico Thanksgiving tournament Saturday night.
New Mexico (5-1), down 48-42 with 4:38 left, dodged the upset because Marsh stepped up her game at both ends.
"She blocked a shot, she stole the ball once and hit her free throws," Flanagan said. "We were going to her late when we weren't hitting the 3."
"You get down to the wire and it clicks that you've got to play harder than you've been playing," Marsh said. "Of course, you're tired. But you've got to suck it up and pull the game out."
Marsh hit a left-handed layup to get the Lobos within four, then made a steal to set up a 3-pointer by Katie Montgomery that got New Mexico within 48-47 with 3:51 remaining.
Destanie Sykes made a layup for the Cowgirls (1-2), and New Mexico's Judy Vogt hit a baseline 3-pointer to tie it with 2:05 left. An Oklahoma State turnover led to an offensive rebound basket by Lobo reserve Timi E-Nunu, and Smith forced a final tie with a layup with 1:04 left.
Marsh rebounded a missed jumper by teammate Julie Briody and was fouled with 37 seconds left. Marsh hit both shots, then two more with seven seconds remaining after Smith forced a 16-footer.
New Mexico broke into the Top 25 with a 76-68 road win over then-No. 12 Texas, but for the second straight night struggled at home. The Lobos beat Marist 61-54 on Friday.
"We played more relaxed, more confident and harder at Texas than we do at home with 9,000 people screaming. It doesn't make sense," Flanagan said. "They're trying to please everybody, and you can't."
Smith finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds while carrying an Oklahoma State team that was without center Whitney Pegram for much of the second half. She scored just six points and picked up her fourth foul with 10:40 to play.
New Mexico, with Montgomery hitting a pair of 3-pointers, took a 10-2 lead as the Cowgirls missed seven of their first nine shots. Oklahoma State's first five possessions ended with an air ball, three missed field goals and a turnover.
Brisa Silva, who hit four 3-pointers in the first half, got Oklahoma State's offense going with a 3 that came in the midst of a 10-2 run by the Cowgirls.
The teams traded baskets the rest of the first half and the last six field goals were all 3-pointers. Silva's last 3-pointer of the first half gave the Cowgirls a 27-21 lead with 2:04 left, but the Lobos tied it at 30 at the break on back-to-back 3s by Briody and Jana Francis.
The teams combined for 17 3-pointers, with New Mexico hitting nine and OSU eight.
Oklahoma State had a 37-31 edge in rebounding, including 14 offensive.