Stevens: Lobos Hope Eastern NM's Visit Brings UNM Its First Win
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/21/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 21, 2011

New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Tuesday: 7 p.m., Eastern New Mexico at Lobos
On The Air: 610-AM KNML
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/oLobos.com

Is there such a thing as a "trap" game when the team heading toward the possible trap has yet to win a game?

First-year Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez is hoping the answer is "No," and that her 0-3 New Mexico Lobos take the Eastern New Mexico Zias as seriously as UNM took the No. 13 ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

If so, the Zias might be looking at some nasty Lobos come 7 p.m., Tuesday in University Arena.

"We are better than 0-and-3," said Caroline Durbin, UNM's leading scorer with a 14.7 average.

The Lobos' schedule definitely had some bite to it with a journey to Texas Tech and a Pit game with the ranked Sooners; a 58-56 Lobo loss. But North Texas was beatable and so is Eastern - especially if the Lobo team Sanchez wants to show up does show up.

The Sooners probably were expecting to come into The Pit and smack down the Lobos by a count similar to the 69-43 hurting handed out by the Lady Red Raiders. It didn't happen. In fact, the Lobos probably should have won the game -- and could have won the game with a few clutch free throws and better ball handling down the stretch.

What Sanchez saw vs. Oklahoma was not the Lobo team she saw on Texas hardwood.

"I learned how hard our team can play and I learned how well they can execute," said Sanchez. "I really liked the heart and soul and effort from the team. I told them, `Now, I know what to expect and that's what I'm going to expect."

Said Lobo wing, Porche Torrance: "If we play like that the rest of the season, we are going to be a tough team to beat."

If there is a "trap" in Eastern's visit, it will have to be first formed in the Lobos' minds. They were pumped for a visit by the highly-regarded Sooners. Will the Lobos be as motivated to welcome Eastern with the same Lobo ferocity?

"Our fans get us going," said Torrance.

Obviously, Eastern New Mexico is not Oklahoma. But when you are 0-3 there is simply motivation to look up at the scoreboard and see your name on the winning column. The Lobos are ready for that sight.

"We really need to win this game, get back on track, and start a winning streak," said Durbin.

The Zias could well be the start of that streak. They are 1-2 and are coming off losses to CSU-Pueblo (66-42) and Western State (68-52). It gets tougher for UNM in the Hilton Garden Inn/Lobo Thanksgiving Tournament set for Friday and Saturday in The Pit. UNM opens with Morehead State and plays either Pepperdine or Idaho on Saturday.

"Morehead State is very athletic," said Sanchez. "They will pressure you and try to run in transition. They'll do different things to speed up the tempo and make you play ugly.

"We haven't won that tournament in a while and it's about time to get back and win it. But Eastern comes first."

Eastern is led by senior forward Precious Herrin with an 18.7 scoring average. Amber Williford scores at a 10.7 clip and Kiara Tate averages 10.0 points. The Lobos were at a size disadvantage against Oklahoma, but will be the court giants vs. Eastern. The Zias' starting lineup goes 5-9, 5-9, 5-8, 5-7, 5-6.

Durbin has been both smooth and clutch for the Lobos so far this season. She is shooting 61.3 percent from the floor and 62.5 percent from three-point range. She averages 34 minutes per game and with each minute - and shot - a target is forming on her talented back.

"I think teams are going to start double teaming her," said Sanchez. "They are going to start putting their best defender on her."

Said Durbin: "Coaches have told me, `You need to shoot it.' So that's what I've tried to do."

If opposing teams start to blanket Durbin, other Lobos need to step up in the scoring column. But Durbin also is tough to defend because of her versatility.

"Caroline does a lot of good things," said Sanchez. "She can shoot the three. She can shoot the pull-up (jumper). She can shoot off a ball screen and she can take it to the basket."

Durbin is UNM's only player with a double-figure average. Jayme Jackson scores at an 8.0 rate and Porche Torrance averages 7.7 points. UNM is getting 7.7 boards per game from Torrance and 7.0 per game from Jourdan Erskine, but the Lobos' inside game has to become more of a threat on the scoreboard.


Probable StartersHTPositionSeason Statistics
12 - Nikki Nelson5-5Guard3.3 Pts. - 3.7 Rebs
14 - Jourdan Erskine6-0Post4.7 Pts. -- 7.0 Rebs.
24 - Caroline Durbin6-0Guard14.7 Pts. - 3.3 Rebs.
23 - Porche Torrance6-1Wing7.7 Pts. - 7.7 Rebs.
21 - Jayme Jackson5-7Guard8.0 Pts. - 1.3 Rebs.

The NM BenchHTPositionSeason Statistics
11 - Lauren Taylor6-0Guard1.7 Pts. -- 1.0 Rebs.
35 - Chinyere Nnaji6-0Post1.7 Pts. - 3.3 Rebs.
43 - Emily Stark6-5Post1.3 Pts. - 0.7 Rebs.
44 - Deeva Vaughn6-0Wing2.7 Pts. - 3.3 Rebs.
33 - Maddie Muraida6-2Post0.0 Pts. -- 0.0 Rebs.