Stevens: Lobos Fall To TCU 63-56; Turn Attention To Air Force
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/28/2012
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 28, 2012

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - On The Mountain West Road

Saturday: TCU Horned Frogs 63, New Mexico Lobos 56
Tuesday: 6 p.m., Air Force at New Mexico -- The Pit
On The Air: The Mtn-TV; 610-AM KNML

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In a snap, Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez turned her attention away from Saturday's 63-56 loss at TCU and toward her Lobos only chance to find a Mountain West victory in the first half of the league race.

"Right now, it's all about Air Force," said Sanchez after the TCU loss that dropped UNM to 0-6 in the MW race. "I told the kids we are going after that Air Force win. Our focus is going out to tackle the second half of conference.

"I know these girls are hungry. Air Force is hungry for wins just like we are, but it's time to give our fans a treat. It's time to give them a home win."

The injury-plagued Lobos have not been favored so far in any MW games, but they should be favored in The Pit at 6 p.m., Tuesday against an Air Force team that also has struggled to post a league win. Air Force lost by 22 points to TCU in Colorado Springs.

The Lobos used a gutsy rally late in the second half to put a scare into TCU in Fort Worth. A running, baseline jumper by Caroline Durbin with 2:27 had the Lobos down 53-51 and on a 10-0 run. TCU had been guarding a 53-41 lead before the UNM rally.

TCU then got a huge, off-balance bucket from Chelsea Prince at the 1:53 mark to push the Frogs back up 55-51. It was a key possession for the Lobos and it ended when Jayme Jackson got stripped of the ball near the midcourt line by Prince and the Frogs had the ball.

"We had a chance to cut it to two," said Sanchez. "We can't just turn the ball over."

TCU then put the game pretty much out of reach when Antoinette Thompson drove, made a layup and added a free throw. TCU was up 58-51 with 1:06 to play. UNM's only chance was to make some baskets and hope the Frogs would miss their free throws down the stretch. TCU made 5-of-6 from the line to ice the win.

"I know the kids of tired of hearing it's a good effort, but it was a good team effort," said Sanchez. "There were some great performances. There were a lot of positives, but we didn't get the win. There are no moral victories. We don't want to just be close anymore."

UNM's leading scorer, Durbin, didn't start the game because of a knee sprain but she came in at the 17:17 mark of the first half and ended up leading all scorers with 20 points. "She answered the call," said Sanchez.

UNM's Porche Torrance had 10 points and nine rebounds. Chinyere Nnaji had seven boards for UNM.

"Chin (Chinyere) is getting more and more comfortable out there and more and more aggressive," said Sanchez. "That's what we need out of Chin. She keeps working hard and keeps getting more and more comfortable with her post play inside."

The Lobos had only 16 turnovers - their first MW game under 20 - but did have several big ones that led to TCU layups. The Frogs' big edge was inside where they outscored UNM 38-18. UNM had 26 points off turnovers to 18 for TCU. UNM shot 46.7 percent from the floor and TCU used its inside touch to shoot 50 percent.

Second Half: TCU Horned Frogs 30, New Mexico Lobos 27

TCU's 10-0 run to end the first half turned into a 13-0 run: 36-29. That old-fashioned 3-point play came off a UNM turnover. The Lobos flipped the ball over again and the Frogs hit a 12-footer: 38-29, to make it a 15-0 run.

"We just can't give up that many points right at the start (of the second half) and have to play catch up," said Sanchez.

The Lobos then got scrappy on defense and it paid off. Nelson hit a tough shot off a drive to beat the shot clock and the Lobos were down 38-31. Nnaji stepped out to hit a 16-footer and UNM carried a 38-33 deficit into the 15:12 break.

TCU got another 3-point play inside to go up 41-33 and scored inside again to go up 43-33. TCU's Colbert scored inside to give TCU a 12-point lead at 45-33. Durbin got fouled on a drive at the 12:25 mark and hit two free shots to make it 45-35 in TCU's favor. The score stayed that way going into the 11:58 break.

The Frogs stayed up by 12 to 10 points over the next several minutes. The Lobos had a chance to cut their deficit to single digits, but Jackson missed two free throws with just under nine minutes to go. TCU bumped their lead back to 12 at 53-41. Jackson then hit back-to-back buckets to make it 53-45. TCU called a timeout at 6:05, up eight points with the ball.

The Lobos then fed Torrance inside. The senior drove and scored with her left hand: 53-47 at the 5:32 mark. Both team had chances to score but either missed shots or turned the ball over. At the 3:34 media break, the score was still 53-47, but UNM's Jourdan Erskine was coming out of the Lobo huddle shooting two free throws.

Erskine made both free shots and UNM was down 53-49 going into the stretch run. TCU turned the ball over at its end and Durbin cut the score to 53-51 on a running, baseline jumper.

TCU got a big bucket from Prince, who threw up an off-balanced jumper on the baseline. TCU was up 55-51 and Jackson lost the ball bringing it down with 1:31 to play and TCU had possession. Thompson probably sealed the win for TCU with a drive, a layup, and a free throw. TCU was up 58-51 (7) with 1:06 to go.

UNM's Nelson made it interesting with a high-arching trey to make it 58-54 with 48.6 to play. The Frogs now needed to take care of the ball, burn the clock and hit their free throws.

UNM fouled Natalie Ventress with 44 seconds to play. She made both ends of the one-and-one to make it 60-54. Taylor air balled a long trey with 30.6 to play. Thompson was fouled, hit her free throws and TCU was cruising at 62-54. Durbin hit a baseline jumper: 62-56. TCU mopped up at the free-throw line to produce the 63-56 final.

First Half: TCU Horned Frogs 33, New Mexico Lobos 29

The Lobos started the game with their leading scorer, Caroline Durbin, on the bench. The talented junior came in at the 17:17 mark and quickly hit an 8-footer to pull the Lobos into an 8-6 hole. The score stayed that way going into the first media break at the 15:13 mark. UNM came out of the break and got two free throws from Jayme Jackson to form an 8-all tie.

Just prior to the 11:55 media break, TCU had pulled ahead 14-10. Durbin hit a long trey in front of the TCU bench to pull the Lobos into a 14-13 gap going into that timeout. Durbin continued to keep the Lobos snug on the scoreboard. TCU used back-to-back treys to go up 20-15. Durbin hit a trey to make it 20-18 at the 8:53 break.

The Lobos then threw out a nice run aided by back-to-back TCU turnovers. Torrance scored inside off a Durbin feed to make it 21-20 in favor of TCU. Taylor then hit a trey and UNM was back on top, 23-21. Torrance drove and flipped in a short jumper and the Lobos had their biggest lead of the game up to that point, 25-21.

UNM was up 29-23 before TCU turned up the defensive intensity and used a couple of steals to help them throw out a 6-0 run to tie the game at 29-all. The Frogs' last two baskets in that run came from breakaway layups produced by TCU steals.

The Frogs ended the half with a 10-0 run to take a 33-29 lead into the halftime break. Durbin ended the half going 5-of-7 from the field to lead all scorers with 12 points. TCU outscored UNM in the paint 20-8. TCU shot 58 percent to 43.5 for UNM.

The Lobos had some costly turnovers in the first half as those TCU steals led to some uncontested layups. However, UNM and TCU both had eight turnovers in the half and UNM outscored TCU 16-8 off turnovers. TCU won the board battle, 15-10. TCU had eight players in the scoring charts and UNM had five.