Jan. 25, 2009
Saturday: Lobos 75, TCU 63
Up Next: Lobos at Colorado State, Wednesday
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It's fair to call Lobo Georonika Jackson the unknown factor. It's likely when TCU was yelling, "guard her," the Horned Frogs didn't have a name to attach to No. 22 on the New Mexico team who was tossing all those long-range daggers over the TCU zone.
"Georonika played the best game of her life and I'm real happy for her," said Lobos coach Don Flanagan after UNM's 75-63 Mountain West Conference win Sunday in The Pit. "I told her I thought she was going to get in this game and be ready to play. She played very well."
Jackson came into the game averaging 1.6 points. She had made two 3-pointers in 17 games and 140 minutes of playing time. She made six 3-pointers in 20 minutes against TCU, leading UNM with 23 points. Jackson went 6-of-9 from behind the line and added a regular field goal, plus three free throws to reach a career high.
Flanagan said TCU's strategy was to pull the zone off UNM's worse shooters and let them launch. So, Jackson launched. "I saw they were doing that at the beginning of the game," said the 5-foot-11 junior. "So when I went in there, I knew I just had to relax and hit my shots."
Said Flanagan: "G (Georonika) got in there and they didn't put anybody on her and she got a free opportunity to shoot."
Hitting open shots wasn't exactly UNM's forte the entire 40 minutes. The Lobos had some awful spots, including a 33.3 percent effort in the first half. UNM finished at 37.7 percent from the field. TCU wasn't much better at 38.9 percent.
UNM also got 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from junior point guard Amy Beggin. Senior Angela Hartill had 14 points and seven rebounds. Jessica Kielpinski had five assists, three steals and five rebounds off the bench. Flanagan got 34 points and 15 rebounds off his bench. TCU got 11 points and five rebounds from its subs. TCU's Helen Sverrisdottir led all scorers with 25 points.
"We had a little difficulty with their different defenses," said Flanagan. "We didn't shoot well early on."
One big edge for UNM in scoring was taking 15 more shots than TCU. The reason for that was UNM outrebounded TCU 44-34 with the ten-board edge coming on the offensive end, 16-to-6. UNM also had nine more assists, six more steals and five fewer turnovers than the Frogs.
"We noticed that they had not been very good at rebounding and we wanted to make sure we outrebounded them," said Flanagan. "We wanted more possessions and consequently more shots." The win pushed UNM's record to 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the MWC. TCU falls to 12-7 and 4-2. Utah leads the MWC at 5-0.
"I told them (Lobos) this is a game for third place right now in conference," said Flanagan. "If we get by that, you're battling for first place. You don't want to be number four (seed) in the (MWC) tournament. Number four plays four games and number three plays three game. That's (TCU) the team we were playing for third place at this point."
The Lobos ran to a 10-point lead in the first half at 28-18 before TCU cut it to 32-28 at the break. Jackson hit four 3-pointers in the first half to separate her team from TCU on the scoreboard.
The Lobos trailed 45-44 at the 11:39 mark of the second half. Then Jackson woke up The Pit and lite up the scoreboard with back-to-back treys. Her second came off a steal by Amanda Adamson and UNM was up 50-45.
TCU called a timeout and came out of the break to face a rowdy Pit. UNM held on defense and Jackson tried another trey, missed, but was fouled after the shot. She made all three free shots and UNM went up 53-45 at the 10:06 mark.
The Lobos and The Pit got another spark at 9:16 when Beggin got a steal, drove for a layup, was fouled, made the free shot and put UNM up 56-47. The Lobos had outscored TCU 12-to-2.
"I thought that was a momentum changer," Flanagan said of that stretch highlighted by Beggin's steal. "I don't think we played particularly well, but they (TCU) are pretty talented and they are good-sized kids."
Hartill said Jackson's 23 points "shows we're a team that's a lot harder to defend than most people think. Anyone on our team can step up on any given day. We definitely needed this (win). I don't think we played very well today, but we came out with a win."
The Lobos pushed their 32-28 halftime lead to 39-33 at 16:24 on an Eileen Weissmann trey from the left side. TCU came back with a long trey from the top of the key to make it 39-36 going into the 15:45 timeout. The Lobos had some nice looks from long range at that point, but had missed four straight before Weissmann connected.
Weissmann found another hole in the TCU 1-3-1 zone at 14:58, knocked down the trey from the top of the key, and UNM was up 42-36. TCU got another long trey to cut UNM's lead to 42-41 and Flanagan called a timeout at 12:49.
At the 11:58 media time, UNM was still up by a point, 44-43. At that mark, TCU was shooting 57.1 percent in the second half to 26.7 percent for the Lobos (2-of-10 3-pointers), but UNM had eight more field goal attempts than the visitors from Fort Worth.
That's when Jackson got hot followed by Beggin's steal, layup and foul shot that put UNM up 56-47. TCU cut that nine-point lead to 58-52 at the 6:43 media timeout.
Jessica Kielpinski came out of that break to hit two free throws and UNM went up 60-52. TCU turned the ball over on an offensive foul and Hartill got a layup off a Kielpinski feed to push UNM back up by ten points, 62-52.
Hartill got fed again by Kielpinski, this time an inside-out pass to Hartill on the right side of the key. The UNM senior rattled in the trey and UNM was up 65-54. Hartill returned the favor a few seconds later feeding Kielpinski inside for a layup and the Lobos had stretched it to 67-54. TCU called a time at 4:45, down 13 point in The Pit.
TCU came out of the break to get another trey. UNM came up with a big basket by Adamson to go back up by 12 points, 69-57. The Frogs had a long ways to go.
TCU pulled out of the zone in the final three minutes and worked on UNM in a man defense. Beggin broke down that defense with drives and at 1:32 TCU called a timeout down 72-61. UNM used the free throw line to coast to the 75-63 final.
The first half started off slow for both teams, which missed a lot of good looks early. Beggin banged in a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give UNM a 7-5 lead going into the first media timeout of the game at 14:48. The Lobos were shooting 3-of-13 at that point and TCU was 2-of-9. Both squads were 1-of-4 from the 3-point line.
Lauren Taylor, the Lobos' first sub off the bench, put UNM up 10-7 with a long 3-pointer from the right wing. TCU's Chantelle John muscled through Weissmann, made the layup and added a point at the foul line to produce a 10-all tie at the 11:42 timeout. Both teams were still cold from the field with UNM shooting 21.1 percent and TCU 30.8 percent. UNM's edge was tossing up six more shots at that point, fueled by four TCU turnovers.
TCU seemed to be willing to let certain Lobos launch from long range and Jackson was one of them. She burned TCU by hitting 3-of-4 treys. UNM slipped ahead 19-14 and TCU called a timeout.
The Horned Frogs came out of the break with a little more pressure on the 3-point line. UNM reacted well and got a 16-foot jumper from Jackson followed by a Val Kast move in the paint to push the Lobos up 23-18 at the 6:50 time. The Lobo were 5-of-13 from 3-point range at that mark, shooting 38.5 percent long range to 30 percent overall.
UNM came out of the break to go up 26-18 with what else: a Jackson trey. Kielpinski stole the ball at the top of the key and fed Beggin for an uncontested layup and a 28-18 UNM lead. The Lobos helped TCU with some turnovers in the final minutes of the first half and UNM went into the lockerroom with its 32-28 lead.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner