STEVENS: Lobos Roll Miners 66-43; Take Seven-Game Win Streak on The Road
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/16/2008
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 16, 2008

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Head Coach:Don Flanagan Post Game Press Conference
Amy Beggin_Angela Hartill Post Game Press Conference

Lobo Basketball
Lobos 66, UTEP 43
Up Next: Lobos at New Mexico State, 2:05 p.m., Saturday

It's probably not the only question about the 10-1 Lobos, but when you are 10-0 in The Pit and 0-1 on the road, it is an obvious one even for Lobos coach Don Flanagan. Can his Lobos continue to roll outside the comfort of University Arena?

"Now we have to learn how to play on the road," said Flanagan after his University of New Mexico Lobos coasted past the UTEP Miners 66-43 Tuesday night in The Pit. "Our fans have to be happy and we've played a lot of good teams," Flanagan said after his team's final home game prior to the Mountain West Conference season opener Jan. 7 in The Pit vs. UNLV.

Flanagan and his Lobos have no choice but to discover if life -- and shooting -- is tougher on the road as they play at New Mexico State on Saturday and at Texas A&M on Dec. 30. Typically, teams shooting percentages drop once they get off their home floor. Shooting percentage was a huge factor in UNM's stroll past the Miners in front of a University Arena crowd of 8,451. The Lobos have won seven in a row. UTEP (5-5) was held to its lowest scoring total of the season.

The Miners got off 19 more shots than UNM, but hit only 17-of-64 for 26.6 percent. UNM went 23-of-45 for 51.1 percent; 9-of-17 and 52.9 percent from behind the line. "We shot well. That's good news," said Flanagan.

Senior Angela Hartill led the Lobos in shooting, hitting 7-of-11 shots and finishing with 20 points. Junior Amy Beggin added 12 points. Senior Amanda Adamson had seven rebounds and three assists. The Lobos got 20 points off the bench with Nikki Nelson leading the subs with six points.

"I'm trying to get Nikki some minutes," said Flanagan. "Nikki is just a step away from getting more playing time. She adds another player with quickness and we need some more quickness. What she gave us tonight is something we really need (quickness). They (UTEP) have four or five players who can break you down."

The Lobos rolled to a 34-22 halftime lead and were never challenged by the Miners in the second half. UTEP's shooting was dismal in the first half (29.4 percent) and got worse in the second half (23.3 percent).

"We did a good job on transition defense and pretty much defended well," said Flanagan. "We took away their fast break. We made them shoot (poorly), but they had too many opportunities." The Miners created some of those opportunities with 17 offensive boards and added seven steals. UNM had 16 turnovers to 12 for UTEP.

"They shot a lot more times than we did," said Flanagan. "I didn't think our offense was very crisp at times. I was pretty happy overall in how we contained them. When you hold them to 40-something points (43), you are going pretty good."

The Lobos' 10-1 mark probably is a bit of overachieving, but not for Flanagan or his gutsy team. "I'm not surprised," said Hartill. "We've been working hard. It's just been paying off for us."

Flanagan said Saturday's game in Las Cruces should be a hard, physical game and he expects that it is a game the Aggies have been focusing on, especially since the Lobos hammered the Aggies in The Pit earlier this season. "They are going to come at us hard," he said. Said Beggin: "We are going to have to play well to win."

The Lobos, up by 12 at the half, slowly separated themselves from the Miners and at the 10:10 mark of the second half, Flanagan called a 30-second timeout up 50-32. At the 7:46 media timeout, UNM was up 53-39. Hartill had her 20 points. UTEP, once down 14-to-5 to UNM on the boards, was now in charge of the rebounding category 28-to-25. At that mark, UNM was shooting 55.6 percent to 30.8 percent for the visitors from El Paso.

Nothing really changed much in the final minutes and UNM coasted to the 66-43 win.

The Lobos pulled away from UTEP in the first half with superior shooting and board work. With 7:13 to play, UNM was up 28-12 shooting 64.7 percent from the floor to 26.3 percent for the Miners. UNM was dominating the glass 14-to-5. The Lobos had eight assists to one for UTEP. Beggin had paced UNM with three treys for nine points. She ended the half with that total and added three points in the second half.

The Miners adjusted to the Lobos' defensive pressure down the stretch of the half and cut into UNM's lead to trail 34-22 at the break. UNM ended up shooting 59.1 percent for the half and UTEP came in at 29.4 percent. The Miners used some board work to stop the Lobos from expanding their lead. UTEP ended the half down 17-to-15 in the rebounding category. The Lobos had 10 turnovers to four for UTEP.

Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner