March 18, 2009
Wednesday: Lobos 72, Southern University 44
Up Next: Lobos vs. Nebraska -- second round WNIT
When/Where: 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, Santa Ana Star Center, Rio Rancho
Tickets: $5 students, $10 reserved, $20 floor; Santaanastarcenter.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Road to Rio Rancho?
Yeah, that sounds a little post-season weird, but that's the destination point the WNIT path out of The Pit has placed before Don Flanagan's Lobos.
"That's a new venue for us," said Flanagan. "It will be like a mini-Vegas. I'm kind of excited about it because I'm happy we're going to be in Rio Rancho and not in Nebraska in March."
Well, they do call it March Madness, so maybe that explains why the Lobos' first-ever road game in the WNIT takes them to Rio Rancho - a neutral site. And, no, the Lobos will not be playing Coach Bob McIntyre's Rio Rancho Rams.
The Lobos bit the Southern University Jaguars 72-44 Wednesday night in The Pit. UNM advances to a second-round WNIT game vs. Nebraska on Wednesday, March 25 in Rio Rancho's Santa Ana Star Center.
Lobo Angela Hartill said a few weeks ago that when the Lobos go to Las Vegas, The Pit goes to Vegas. So, will The Pit go to Rio Rancho?
"I hope our fans support it," said Flanagan. "It's very important they support it."
The move to the Star Center might be a gamble, of sorts, for the WNIT. There were 3,105 fans in the stands for UNM's roll over Southern. Nebraska pulled in 3,973, 2,424 and 4,168 fans in the Huskers final three homes games. But the WNIT games usually don't draw as well as regular-season games that include a solid season-ticket base.
A key for the gate at the Star Center might be how Rio Rancho embraces the Lobos for a night.
"We're just thrilled that we get to stay close and we don't have to travel," said Lobo Amanda Adamson, one of four Lobos to score in double figures against Southern.
The Lobos' roll over Southern was a game pretty much over at the half when the Lobos walked in with a 23-point lead at 38-15. The Lobos ran to leads of 11-2 and 29-15 before a 9-0 run produced the 38-15 count.
The Lobos final run came on two field goals and a trey by Adamson and an Eileen Weissmann lay up off a cut and a pass from Angela Hartill. Junior Amy Beggin also scored her 1,000th point as a Lobo in that half scoring on a drive and adding a free throw.
"That amazed me. I didn't think she was close to 1,000," said Flanagan. "I've had some pretty good point guards and none of them got to 1,000 this early (in career). I'm happy for her. She has been an outstanding offensive player."
Said Beggin: "It's kind of special but winning is more important to me."
Beggin led all scorers with 15 points, 9-of-9 from the free throw line. Adamson had 14, Hartill 11 and Georonika Jackson had 10 points. No Jags reached double figures. All 11 Lobos scored.
UNM shot 43.9 percent from the floor to 28.8 percent for Southern. The win pushed UNM to 23-10 on the year and dropped Southern to 16-14. All 11 Lobos reached double digits in minutes played.
"I got an opportunity to play everybody," said Flanagan. "That's what you want. I think we've been playing well for the last two months."
The Jaguars' best run in the game came at the start of the second half when a 6-0 dash cut UNM's 38-15 halftime lead to 38-21. An acrobatic follow by Jackson put the Lobos back up 46-23 and any Jag thought of a dramatic rally in The Pit were washed away.
Adamson hit a trey to put UNM up 57-30 and Sara Halasz drove the baseline and made a lay up to make it 59-32.
At the 7:18 break, UNM was up 63-35 and all the Lobo starters were on the bench. UNM got back-to-back buckets from Lauren Taylor and Valerie Kast to go up 68-36. The Lobo subs worked the clock in the final four minutes, had a few too many turnovers and missed free throws, and drifted to the 72-44 final.
The Lobos and Nebraska are looking at a rematch in Rio Rancho, but UNM's 62-51 win came in The Pit on Nov. 29. This WNIT thing comes on a neutral site.
The Lobos fell behind Nebraska in the first game after going more than 17 minutes without a field goal in the first half. UNM was down 26-22 at the half, but rallied to lead the Huskers by as many as 22 points in the second half.
"I don't remember a whole lot of the game," said Adamson. " I just remember we won."
Beggin led the Lobos in that game with 19 points and Hartill had 14 points. The Lobos went on a 23-to-3 run in the second half to put away the Huskers.
"It's kind of special, but winning is more important to me."
Lobo Amy Beggin on becoming sixth junior and the 16th member of UNM's 1,000-point club.
"There are some pretty darn good teams in this tournament," said Flanagan. "I'm pretty impressed with the field. There are a lot of pretty good teams that don't make the NCAA. It's an exciting tournament."
You kind of have to wonder what Nebraska thinks about this exciting tournament. The Huskers get a first-round bye in The Nit and then are sent on the road - the Road to Rio Rancho.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner