Nov. 29, 2008
What: Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament
Saturday's championship: Lobos 62, Nebraska 51
Consolation: William & Mary 53, Butler 50
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.comp
Maybe the Lobos were simply trying to give Don Flanagan a big surprise on his birthday. His University of New Mexico women kind of came out of the locker room at the half and said, "Surprise, we really can shoot!"
Based on what Flanagan saw from his Lobos Saturday night in the championship of the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament, the UNM coach had to be somewhat surprised by the Lobos' second-half offensive explosion that led to a 62-51 win over Nebraska.
The Lobos went more than 17 minutes without a field goal in the first half and at one point were 1-of-17 from the field. The Lobos warmed up considerably in the second 20 minutes, shot 55.6 percent from the field, to lead Nebraska by as many as 22 points.
It was the tale of two halves and the tale of two Lobo teams. "Two different halves, huh?" said Flanagan. "That's why you play two halves."
The Lobos went into intermission down 26-22 after shooting 20 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes. The Lobos were 4-of-20, but did hit their last three shots of the half which seemed to spark the Lobos' confidence as well as the sleeping Pit. Senior Amanda Adamson scored UNM's first field goal at 18:45 and UNM didn't score a goal again until Valerie Kast hit a turnaround shot with 1:28 to play in the half.
"We weren't moving. We were standing around; bumping into each other," said Flanagan. "I don't know what offense they were running. I didn't recognize it and I wasn't very proud of it."
At the half, Flanagan said, jokingly, "I spent a lot of time threatening them." What he really did was make a couple of adjustments in UNM's offense and defense. He gave his Lobos more spacing at the offensive end. On defense, he settled primarily on a zone defense to thwart Nebraska, which did a good job driving in the first half, but also didn't shoot lights out.
"When you are playing in the zone, even if they beat the outside players, you have your zone behind you helping you," said Adamson. Nebraska shot 28.1 percent in the first half and 31 percent in the second half. It was the Lobos who warmed up in the second half, not the Cornhuskers.
"What we tried to do was space the floor a little bit," said Flanagan. "It's not the most perfect offense, but it did serve its purpose. Once we got spacing, they (Huskers) couldn't help as much (on defense). It opened up driving lanes and it opened up opportunities for us."
The small hot streak the Lobos rode into the half did not stay in the UNM locker room. The Lobos hit their first seven shots and were up 46-36 at the 12:26 mark when Nebraska called a timeout after back-to-back Lobo treys. UNM's Amanda Best hit the first trey from the left side of the UNM offense and Angela Hartill hit the second one from the right side.
The Lobos were still up 46-36 at the 11:04 media timeout, shooting 9-of-14 in the second half, 64.3 percent. Nebraska was shooting 30.2 percent at that point and seemingly frustrated by the UNM zone. "You could tell by their faces (they were frustrated)," said Beggin.
The Lobos came out of that timeout and went on a little run. Weissmann split the middle for a layup followed by Hartill on a fast-break bucket. UNM was up 53-39. Beggin then drove to her left, floated back to right and laid a soft shot over the front of the rim at the 8:15 mark. Beggin was fouled on the play and added a free throw to make it 56-39.
Best then drove the right side for a layup to push UNM up 58-39. Beggin probably ended any questioins that his would be a UNM win when she banged in a trey to make it 61-39 with 6:31 to play. The Lobos closed to the 62-51 finale.
The Lobos upped their season mark to 6-1. Nebraska suffered its first loss of the season and fell to 5-1. Beggin was the tourney's Most Valuable Player and Adamson joined her teammate on the All-Tournament team.
Beggin led UNM with 19 points and six assists. Adamson had 10 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals in the title game. Hartill had 14 points and Best led all rebounders with nine. UNM ended up shooting 54.5 percent from the 3-point line where Nebraska was 29.2 percent. UNM outscored Nebraska by ten points from the free-throw line.
"I'm very proud of what we did tonight," said Flanagan, referring to his team coming back from a bad first half and taking control of the second half. "They won a big game. They have a great attitude and they work well together. Their chemistry is exceptional."
The Lobos took control of the first half by hitting their first seven shots. Nebraska was still close at the 13:26 mark, down 38-36, before UNM went on a 23-to-3 run.
"Once again, we kept battling and we stuck with each other," said Beggin. "When we hit our first couple of shots (in the second half), it calmed us down. We never give up on each other. We know that we are going to fight and we're going to fight for 40 minutes."
Said Adamson: "We really turned it on for the second half."
The Lobos' next game is Dec. 4 in The Pit vs. New Mexico State.
The first half was probably an offensive half both teams wanted to forget. UNM finished shooting 20 percent (4-of-20) from the floor and Nebraska shot 28.1 percent (9-of-32). There was some good defense thrown out by both teams, but there was some awful shooting, too. UNM went 13-of-18 from the free-throw line to hang with Nebraska on the scoreboard. The Huskers were 6-of-8 from the line. Nebraska was winning the turnover battle in the first half 10-to-2 before commiting the final four miscues of the half to help UNM fuel its short offensive burst at the close of the half.
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