April 10, 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- New Mexico women's basketball reached its 12th straight post-season appearance in 2008-09 and recorded the second most wins in school history. The Lobos were 25-11 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). New Mexico had one of the most successful non-conference runs in school history and only had two seniors on the roster. UNM finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) Standings and reached the semifinals of the conference championship.
The Lobos opened the season on a winning note at home in the Basketball Travelers Tournament. UNM breezed past Alcorn State and Idaho State before battling DePaul for the tournament championship. The Lobos clawed their way past the Blue Demons and won the first of two tournaments during the month of November.
UNM faced the first of two nationally ranked opponents on Nov. 20 at No. 8 Stanford. The Cardinal hit 11 first-half three-pointers and quickly pulled away from the Lobos for the win.
New Mexico quickly rebounded with a victory over Utah Valley and carried momentum into the Holiday Inn and Suites Express Midtown Tournament. The Lobos beat William and Mary in the first round and had to come from behind to defeat Nebraska in the championship game.
The Lobos were 6-1 heading to the Rio Grande Rivalry game at New Mexico State on Dec. 4. UNM would rout the Aggies 80-48 and go on a five-game winning streak. During the run, New Mexico beat North Texas, Texas Tech, UTEP and NMSU again.
UNM would extended its record to 11-1 and enter the national Associated Press rankings for the first time since Jan. 1, 2007. The 25th-ranked Lobos were off to their best non-conference start in school history heading into College Station, Texas. UNM concluded the non-conference slate with a loss at No. 3 Texas A&M. New Mexico returned to the national scene after opening the MWC schedule with blowout victories over UNLV and at Air Force. UNM's first tough conference game was at BYU on Jan. 17. The Lobos pulled out a 61-57 road win and improved its overall mark to 14-2 and 3-0 in league play.
The character of this New Mexico team was challenged early in conference play. San Diego State snapped a 19-game losing skid to the Lobos and handled UNM its first loss inside The Pit. The loss was difficult to take and knocked the Lobos out of the national rankings but New Mexico continued to fight.
UNM responded with a critical victory over TCU at home and followed that up with a road win at a much-improved Colorado State. After the wins, the Lobos were 16-3 heading into the first of three Utah games.
The Lobos led the Utes for 90 percent of the game but a last minute rally gave Utah a three-point victory. UNM led by as many as five points with 60 second left but the sharp shooting Utes mounted a miracle comeback that left The Pit and New Mexico shocked.
The loss to the Utes sent the Lobos on a tailspin that resulted in back-to-back road loss at Wyoming and UNLV. UNM had double digit halftime leads in both of those games but couldn't hold on after dismal second halves.
UNM faced a tough second half of conference play losing games at SDSU, Utah and TCU. However, the Lobos did manage to win out at home pulling out victories over Air Force, BYU, Colorado State and Wyoming. The Air Force win was monumental for Lobo head coach Don Flanagan. Flanagan reached career win No. 300 against the Falcons in front of a rowdy crowd inside The Pit. Flanagan is the winningest coach in Lobo basketball history and finished the year with a 308-137 overall record.
The Lobos finished the regular-season with a 20-9 record and were 9-7 in the MWC. UNM earned the fourth seed into the championship and faced the ninth-seeded Air Force Falcons in the first round. The Lobos breezed by the Academy and setup a showdown with Colorado State. UNM managed to complete the three-game sweep against the Rams and reach the semifinals of the tournament. New Mexico would square-off against the top-seeded Utes and would drop another heartbreaker to Utah. The Lobos led by as many as 14 in the second half and fell in the final seconds. The heartbreaking defeat left UNM on the bubble for the NCAA tournament at 22-10.
Despite a strong campaign UNM was selected into the WNIT for the fourth time in school history and the first since the 2001 season. The Lobos extended their post-season run to 12 straight years and looked at the opportunity as a chance to build towards the future. The results would be a strong run to the quarterfinals and an unexpected excitement within the community of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. The Lobos opened the WNIT with a first round blowout of Southern in the final basketball game played inside the historic Pit prior to renovations. New Mexico would advance to host Nebraska and the remaining WNIT games at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., 45 minutes north of Albuquerque. The state of the art facility reached a new fan base and provided fans with a glimpse into the future of The Pit. UNM was able to use the ribbon and video boards for elaborate introductions and enhance the atmosphere during the game.
The electricity the new venue created helped the Lobos beat Nebraska and continue to the third round to face Oregon State. UNM and the Beavers played one of the most intense games all season with the Lobos pulling out the 61-56 victory. New Mexico rolled on to the quarterfinals of the WNIT against Kansas. The Jayhawks swooped into the Star Center and proved to be too much for the Lobos. KU used outstanding rebounding and 32 points from stellar guard Danielle McCray to beat UNM 78-69. The loss ended UNM's exciting post-season run and closed the door on one of the best seasons in school history at 25-11.
UNM played 36 games for the first time in school and had the second most wins in a single-season.
Junior Amy Beggin had one of the greatest seasons in school history. Beggin led UNM with 15.4 points per game and was named second team All-MWC. Beggin's outstanding defensive play earned her a spot on the All-MWC Defensive team and was named to the All-MWC Championship team. Beggin set a school record for most minutes played in a single-season with 1,304. She also became the 16th player in UNM history to reach the 1,000 point mark and the only the sixth junior to accomplish the goal. Beggin finished her junior season with 1,063 points after scoring 553 points during the 2008-09 campaign. Beggin scored the second most points in a single-season at New Mexico as well as the second most three-pointers hit in a season with 79.
Senior Angela Hartill concluded her collegiate career with a stellar final season. Hartill was second on the team in scoring after averaging 12 points per game and ranked 10th in the Mountain West Conference in scoring. She finished her senior year scoring in double figures during the last 14 games and reached double figures 42 times during her career. Hartill was named third team All-MWC in her final season.
Fellow senior Amanda Adamson wrapped up her final year at New Mexico as the team's third top scorer with seven points per game and was second in rebound with 5.4 boards per contest. Adamson was among the best in the conference and ranked 17th in rebounding and 11th in blocks with 27. She had two double-doubles as a senior and pulled down a career-high 20 rebounds against Texas Tech. Adamson became just the sixth player in UNM history to reach the 20-rebound mark.
Sophomore Amanda Best emerged as one of the top players at UNM. Best led the team in rebounding with 5.5 boards per game and chipped in 5.4 points per game. Best had six double figure rebound games including pulling down a career-high 13 rebounds against Idaho State. Best reached double figures in scoring five times and started 31 of the 36 games this season.
Junior Eileen Weissmann was a mainstay in the UNM lineup for the second consecutive season. Weissmann was tied for fourth in scoring with 5.6 points per game and shot 28.8 percent from behind the arc. Her defense and determination gave UNM great character and helped provide leadership to a talented roster.
Freshman Sara Halasz started 10 games and showed great potential in her first collegiate season. Halasz ranked 13th all-time at UNM in freshman scoring with 201 points. Freshman Lauren Taylor had shining moments throughout the year including three double figure scoring games. Taylor had 13 points against Colorado State to highlight her first season at New Mexico. Redshirt Freshman Nikki Nelson got her first glimpse at the Division I level and played in 32 games. She averaged 8.2 minutes per game and showed great quickness along with tough ball handling skills.
Juniors Georonika Jackson and Valerie Kast proved to be strong assets off the bench. Jackson averaged 11.3 minutes and 3.3 points per game. Jackson chipped in a career-high 23 points against TCU after hitting six three-pointers against the Lady Frogs. The six trays by Jackson tied her for the second most made three-pointers in a game in New Mexico women's basketball history. Kast showed her game changing abilities against New Mexico State when she scored 18 points and had five blocks. Kast climbed into the Top 10 all-time in career blocks with 62 after only her junior campaign. Kast had 33 blocks during the 2008-09 season and ranks ninth all-time at UNM.
Sophomore Jessica Kielpinski played in 35 games while making her only start at UNLV. Kielpinski continued to improve down low and averaged four points per game along with 3.6 rebounds per contest. Kielpinski along with Kast are the only post players returning for the 2009-10 season.
As a team, New Mexico proved to be durable and fighters as the season progressed. The Lobos hit more three-pointers than any other UNM team in history after nailing 223-of-669 shots behind the arc. New Mexico twice had a player hit six three-pointers in a game in Jackson and Beggin. UNM shot the highest free throw percentage all-time after draining 75 percent of its shots from the free throw line. The Lobos were 505-of-673 at the charity stripe and passed the previous mark of 74.7 percent set in 2005-06. Kast's 33 blocks helped the Lobos set the single-season mark for most blocks in a season with 63.
The 2008-09 season continued to help set the stage for success at New Mexico in the future. UNM returns just over 70 percent of its scoring next season and three starters. The Lobo traditions remained after their 12 consecutive postseason appearance and UNM looks to built upon that this offseason as it gears for the 2009-10 campaign.