Stevens: Lobos' Defense Good, Shooting Poor in 52-49 Loss to Utah
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  02/13/2010
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Feb. 13, 2010

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Saturday: Utah 52, Lobos 49
Wednesday: Lobos at Wyoming, 7 p.m., Laramie

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.

The problem wasn't something Lobo coach Don Flanagan needed to look at a stat sheet to discover, point out and cringe over.

"That's just horrible. That's just horrible," said Flanagan after New Mexico's 52-49 Mountain West Conference loss to the Utah Utes Saturday afternoon in The Pit.

What Flanagan was talking about was Lobo shooting. UNM hit only one field goal after the 8:35 mark of the second half and fell to 14-9 on the season and 6-5 in league play.

The Lobos, minus senior Amy Beggin, shot 23.1 percent in the second half and 30.9 percent for the game.

The Utes weren't exactly shooting lights out and Ute star Kalee Whipple only went 3-of-15 from the floor, but Utah made enough shots down the stretch to pull out the road win.

"I think we played really hard and shut down some of their key players," said UNM's Amanda Best. "It's so frustrating, because we are playing really good defense."

Utah, 14-9 and 5-5 in MWC play are in the same position as the Lobos: looking to finish strong to get momentum and better seeding for the MWC Tournament in Las Vegas.

""Shooting percentages, that's our Achilles Heel," said Flanagan. "We have to make shots. Our defense is good enough to win. Our offense is not good enough (to win). In close games, we haven't had anybody step up and knock in shots."

Saturday's game definitely was a close one. The score was tied 13 times and the lead changed hands eight times. Utah broke out of a 45-all tie with 6:06 to play, and never trailed again, even though UNM formed a 49-49 tie with 54 seconds to play.

Utah went up 50-49 on a free throw by Taryn Wicijowski, but UNM had a good chance to take the lead when Jessica Kielpinski threw up a four-footer on an in-bounds play with 18 seconds to go. It rattled off the rim wide right.

"We had an opportunity to win the game," said Flanagan. "We had a fairly easy shot inside on an in-bounds play and we missed it. That's what we've been doing all year, missing opportunities. "

Utah's Whipple formed the final 52-49 count with two free throws with 12 seconds to go. UNM's Georonika Jackson threw up a long trey at the buzzer, but it hit backboard and rim, but did not fall.

Jackson threw up a similar prayer at the buzzer at halftime and got a trey and a foul for a four-point play.

The Lobos had only two players in double figures: Jackson with 11 and Amanda Best with 11. Utah bumped three scorers into double digits: Wicijowski with 17, Halie Sawyer with 13 and Kalee Whipple with 13. Sawyer added nine boards. UNM's Eileen Weissmann had seven points and nine boards in only 23 minutes of play.

Utah had 17 turnovers and UNM had 13. The board work was close with UNM at 33 and Utah at 32. Utah shot 42.5 percent from the field, 40 percent in the second half. UNM went 4-of-21 from behind the line and Utah went 3-of-13. UNM went 11-of-11 from the line, but Utah outscored UNM by four points from the stripe.

The win gave the Utes a sweep over the Lobos during the regular season.

"They execute better down the stretch lately than we have," said Flanagan. "There was a time when we were doing that to them. We always play them close, but (lately) down the stretch they'll make a shot and we won't."

The Lobos played without Beggin, who banged the back of her head hard in the UNLV game and was not cleared to play against the Utes. Obviously, that loss hurt the Lobos.

The Lobos play at Wyoming on Wednesday. Beggin's status is unknown.

"We have to go to Wyoming which is one of the toughest (MWC) places to play," said Flanagan.

Second Half -- Utah 21, Lobos 17

The Lobos came out of the half up 32-31 and Utah scored five quick points to go up 36-32. Best broke the ice for UNM at 17:12 with a 16-footer: 36-34. Best threw out a couple of moves and hit another jumper to make it 36-all going into the 15:32 break. Utah called timeout at 13:42, failing to get the ball in on an in-bounds play. The score was still locked at 36-all.

At the 11:39 break, UNM had scratched out a 40-38 lead off two drives and two baskets by Halasz. Wicijowski came out of the Ute huddle to knock down two free throws and tie the game at 40-all.

The Utes got the lead back at 42-40 following a shot-clock violation by UNM. The Lobos then used a Whipple turnover to get two free throws from Kielpinski: 42-all. Another Whipple turnover led to a Best trey: 45-42. The Utes got one free throw from Halie Sawyer to make it 45-43 Whipple went backdoor to tie the game at 45-all. That score was carried into the 7:18 break. It was the 12th tie of the game.

The Utes then slipped out of the tie. Wicijowski slipped inside on Kast and threw one in high off the glass: 47-45. Utah got a free throw from Janita Badon at 4:36 to go up 48-45. Taylor got called for palming the ball and Utah had possession coming out of the media break at 3:44. Utah turned it right back over on a Wicijowski walk that negated a layup.

Jackson missed for UNM on a drive and Utah got a nice break as Whipple was fouled as the shot clock expired. She made one: 49-45. Taylor worked the baseline for UNM and got fouled. The Lobo hit both her free shots to form a 49-47 score. Flanagan called a timeout with 2:15 to play.

UNM came out in an aggressive 3/4 press. Utah broke it and set up its half-court offense with about 15-seconds on the shot clock. Whipple threw up an off-balanced shot/air ball. She made up for it with a steal at the other end. Utah called a timeout with 1:27 to play. UNM needed a stop. Utah needed a score. UNM got the stop on a Utah traveling call.

Utah then slipped ahead 50-49. Wicijowski drove lane for Utah, forced a shot, but UNM's Weissmann got called for a block. The big Ute made the first and missed the second. Flanagan called a timeout with 21.5 seconds to play. UNM got a good look from Kielpinski on the in-bounds play, but she missed a short jumper. Utah had the ball with 15.8 seconds to go.

Utah got the ball into Whipple. She knocked down two: 52-49. The Utes fouled with 1.7 seconds to go, but it was only their fifth foul of the half. Instead of going to the line, UNM was bringing the ball in.

Jackson had to force a long trey. It hit the backboard and the rim, but wasn't that close. Final: Utah 52, Lobos 49.

First Half -- Lobos 32, Utah 31

The Utes finished their scoring in the half on a 10-0 run with Whipple knocking in six of those points. UNM finished on a 4-0 run when Jackson got fouled at the buzzer, made the trey and added the free shot. Jackson paced UNM with 11 points. Utah got 12 points inside from Wicijowski. Whipple added eight and Halasz had six for the Lobos. UNM shot 37.9 percent in the half and Utah scored at a 44 percent rate. UNM won the board battle 19-14.

At the first media break at 14:52, UNM was down 6-2. Jackson pulled UNM out of a 6-0 hole with a baseline drive and a layup off the glass. Whipple had two points for Utah and Wicijowski had four.

Halasz pulled UNM to 6-4 on a nifty move down the baseline. She drove and finished with a spin move. Halasz made it 8-6 touching a shot off the glass on a follow off her own miss. UNM got a turnover on its 3/4 press and Kielpinski converted a 14-footer.

Weissmann pushed UNM into an 11-8 lead banging in a trey from the left side. That shot followed an air ball by Whipple, her second of the game. UNM took that 11-8 lead into the second media break at 11:36. Weissmann's 3-pointer was the only one of the game at that point as Utah was 0-of-3 and UNM was 1-of-5.

The teams played even for a few minutes tied at 11-all, 13-all, 15-all and 17-all. UNM then broke away on a short glass shot by Kast and a Jackson trey. UNM was up 22-17 and Utah called a timeout. The Lobos took that five-point lead into the 6:36 break.

Wicijowski got a nice hoop for Utah, sliding down the lane and trying to beat the shot clock. Kast stepped out and bodied the Ute and the wild toss to the rim dropped: 22-19. Wicijowski missed the free shot. Kast fouled Wicijowski again at 4:32 and the Ute hit two from the line: 22-21. The Lobos got a put back from Porche Torrance to take a 24-21 lead into the 3:26 media break.

The Lobos then drifted up 28-21 and looked like they might control the scoreboard at the half. UNM got a basket inside from Weissmann and two free throws from Halasz to take that 28-21 lead. Then UNM lost control of Whipple in the half's closing minutes.

The talented Ute hit a 3-pointer and was fouled on another trey with six seconds to go. She put Utah up 31-28 to cap a 10-0 Utah run. But Flanagan had called timeout during Whipple's free throw session and designed a four-point play. Well, at least it looked like that's what the Lobo coach chalked up.

Jackson got the ball on the right side, dove into a mess of Utes, and heaved a long trey at the basket. It dropped. She got fouled. She hit the free throw and UNM carried a 32-31 lead into the halftime.