STEVENS: Lobos Back on Pit's Winning Track with 72-40 Roll of NAU
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/24/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 24, 2009

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Tuesday: Lobos 72, Northern Arizona 40
Up Next: Vs. North Carolina A&T, 7 p.m. Friday, The Pit
Online: GameTracker, game story on GoLobos.com
Lobos On The Air: 610-AM, The Sports Animal

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It definitely has to go down as a feel-good win for the New Mexico Lobos. The Lobos cut down the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks 72-40 Tuesday night to get back on The Pit's winning track in a game that was never very close.

Lobo coach Don Flanagan also got to dip into his bench early and deep as all Lobos saw court time and 11 Lobos played nine minutes or more.

The Lobos had 16 turnovers against NAU, but Flanagan said, "If I'm playing that many people I'm OK (with the turnover count) ... because we're playing people who haven't played that much."

The Lobos jumped up to a 12-0 lead going into the first media timeout of the game, stretched it to 16-3 and 24-5, before taking a fat 40-18 lead into the half. The Lobos roared ahead 51-20 on a short jumper by Nikki Nelson and cruised to the eventual 32-point win.

The win raised UNM's record to 3-1 and dropped NAU to 0-5. It was UNM's fourth straight win over the Lumberjacks.

"I'll take that as a pretty good (defensive) effort," said Flanagan.

The Lobos were led in scoring by senior Amy Beggin with 15 points, followed by Amanda Best with 12 points and Lauren Taylor with 11 points. NAU was led by Melissa Spaich with 10 points. UNM shot 45.3 percent from the floor to 26.8 percent for NAU. Sara Halasz had ten rebounds and Jessica Kielpinski added eight boards.

The Lobos went into the game looking to hold NAU to 51 points, so the 40-point total was a side victory for the Lobos. "We always have a motive to keep guarding," said Best.

Said Beggin: "You want to take advantage of any game you play. There are games within games (things to work on)."

The Lobos were coming off a 70-56 Pit loss to Oklahoma State in the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament semifinals.

Best scored first for the Lobos in both halves. Her trey put UNM up 43-18 to start the second half. At the 15:17 break, a Beggin trey had UNM up 49-20. Nelson came out of the break to pop in a short jumper on an in-bounds play and UNM was up 51-20 -- 31 points.

Flanagan said after playing a good first half, "You don't want to have an even game in the second half." UNM outscored NAU by 22 in the first half and by ten points in the second half.

The Lobos will host the Holiday Inn and Suites Express/Albuquerque Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament in The Pit on Friday and Saturday. UNM will play North Carolina A&T at 7 p.m. Friday while Yale and Toledo battle at 5 p.m. The title game will be played at 7 p.m. on Saturday following the 5 p.m. consolation game.

First Half -- Lobos 40, NAU 18

Best first got the Lobos on the board at 18:36 with a drive and a layup. Jessica Kielpinski pushed that lead to 5-0 at the 17:58 mark with a layup and a foul shot.

Taylor made it 8-0 UNM at 16:48 with a layup from the left side off a pass from Beggin. The UNM guard was fouled on the shot and added the free one. Best again drove and scored to make it a 10-0 lead. Then Sara Halasz drove and scored: 12-0. The Lobos had five layups and two free throws at the 15:33 break. NAU was shooting 0-of-4 from the floor.

NAU finally got on the scoreboard off an off-line 3-pointer from the baseline that kissed off the glass. Georonika Jackson got on the stats sheet with a baseline drive that put UNM up 16-3. Taylor followed a Nelson missed trey to give UNM an 18-5 lead it carried into the 10:59 break. Flanagan already had taken out all his starters and was into sub warfare.

"They deserve to get some playing time," Beggin said of the subs and younger Lobos.

When Valerie Kast threw in a 10-foot turnaround, it was 24-5 and NAU called a timeout with 9:16 to play. Beggin got her first points of the night on a trey from the left side to produce a 29-8 UNM lead.

Caroline Durbin handed UNM its biggest lead of the half with a trey for a 34-10 Lobo lead. Halasz made it bigger, 36-10, on a drive from the left side. UNM went into the half leading 40-18 with nine Lobos on the scorecard.

Taylor led the way with nine points. Beggin had seven points and three assists. Halasz was UNM's top rebounder in the half with five. UNM shot 47.4 percent from the field to 24.1 percent for NAU.