Feb. 13, 2013
Albuquerque, N.M. - The University of New Mexico Lobos were looking to end a three-game home losing streak on the heels of a gut-wrenching one-point loss to UNLV just four days earlier. It was a case of déjà vu as UNM (12-11, 4-6 MW) suffered a second-straight one-point loss after Wednesday night's 51-50 loss to Fresno State (16-7, 8-2 MW).
"I'm proud of our kids. You look at the stat sheet, and it's even across the board against the number one team in our conference. We had the right kid to shoot the ball at the end. We ran a nice play for her and that is what we wanted to run... It takes a lot of guts to take that shot. Not a lot of people want to take that shot when you are down one point. I give her a lot of credit," noted Head Coach Yvonne Sanchez.
The heartbreaking losses amplified a poor free-throw shooting performance by New Mexico. The home team shot a season-low 18.2% as they converted only two of their eleven attempts from the charity stripe.
The defense carried the Lobos throughout the night. They held FSU to 18 points below their average, forced 21 Bulldog turnovers and held them to just 4-14 (28.6%) shooting from beyond the arc.
Caroline Durbin led New Mexico in scoring. She was the Lobos' only double-digit scorer with 13 points and a season-high four assists. The Fresno State scoring mirrored the Lobos as only Ki-Ki Moore scored in double figures. The point guard finished with 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
"I am proud of our kids. It is very different from Saturday to tonight. That is the kind of effort I want to see. I told them in the locker room you either win or you learn. We didn't win this game so we will learn from it," reflected Coach Sanchez after the game.
The eight-point halftime deficit was cut in half within the first four and a half minutes of the second half. The Fresno State lead hovered around four points until Caroline Durbin's jumper tied the game at 31-31 with 11:50 remaining in the game.
New Mexico scored on its next possession to take the lead courtesy of an 11-3 run over the previous 6:23 and a 17-7 run to open the half.
A tight game in the first half got even tighter in the second half. After there were three lead changes and two ties in the first half, the second half saw ten lead changes and five ties. The two teams continued to exchange leads leading up to the final 1:44 of play as Bryce Owens tied the game at 48-48 with a lay-up.
FSU's Bree Farley converted a three-point play to make it 51-48 with 55 seconds remaining. Sara Halasz gave UNM a response with a paint bucket with just 44 seconds remaining. The UNM defense gave the Lobos a stop down 51-50 and the offense the ball back with 13 seconds left.
The offense advanced the ball across the timeline before finding Caroline Durbin behind the arc in front of the New Mexico bench. Durbin's three would miss its mark as Alex Sheedy grabbed the rebound for the Bulldogs as time expired.
The low-scoring pace of play was apparent from the game's first whistle as neither team scored for the first 2:52 of the game. During that near three-minute span each team only attempted one shot while each committed three turnovers.
Fresno State was the first team out of the gates as they scored 19 of the game's first 27 points. They pushed that eleven-point lead to thirteen points, which was Fresno State's biggest lead of the half. The Fresno State run was fueled by a four-minute scoreless drought by New Mexico that ended with an Antiesha Brown free throw to make the score 19-9.
The UNM offense managed to score only 16 points in the first half, which tied the season low. It was the fourth time this season the Lobo offense scored less than 20 points in the first half of a game. A trio of Lobos (Vaughn, Johnson and Durbin) all led the team with four points through the first 20 minutes of play.
New Mexico's defense forced 14 turnovers in the first half. Fresno State had nine turnovers total in the two teams' last meeting.