March 2, 2010
FORT WORTH, Texas -- It was a game in which the Lobos took it on the chin, Lobo Jessica Kielpinski took it on the nose, and the TCU Horned Frogs took it to the nets.
The New Mexico Lobos lost Kielpinski, a junior center, early in the first half with a broken nose, fell behind 36-20 at the midway break, and lost to TCU 66-54 Tuesday.
The victory handed the Horned Frogs the Mountain West Conference regular-season title which had the TCU women cutting down the nets in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum at the game's end.
The Lobos finished the regular season at 17-11 and 9-7 in the MWC. UNM next plays in the MWC Tournament set for March 9-12 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Kielpinski was replaced in the paint by 6-foot-6 Valerie Kast, who turned in one of her better games in a Lobo jersey. The senior had 14 points, eight rebounds, six blocks and four assists in 31 minutes of play.
Kast's play was one of the reason the Lobos cut TCU's 16-point lead to 38-33 before the Horned Frogs went on a 13-0 run to go back up by 18 points. TCU coasted in for the 12-point win.
The Lobos have not won at TCU in MWC play and the win over UNM extended the Horned Frogs' home-court win streak to 22 games.
"Val Kast played the best game I've seen her play," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "She worked extremely hard. That was a great job by her. She certainly showed that she deserves to play a lot more.
"If we get Jess back and Val continues to play like that, we'll have a presence inside (at the MWC tourney) that will be difficult to defend."
Flanagan said Kielpinski's status for the MWC tourney will be determined prior to UNM venturing to Vegas. The Lobo post played three minutes against TCU.
"Hopefully, we can get Jess back before the tournament," said Flanagan. "That's a pretty broken nose. It doesn't look good. They'll probably put a mask on her because it's almost a given as soon as you get out there, somebody is going to hit you in the nose."
Flanagan, again, saw a Lobo team play two different halves. The Lobos in the first half shot 26 percent and fell behind by 16 points at the break. The Lobos in the second half shot 42 percent and outscored TCU by four points.
The Lobos got 13 points off the bench from Lauren Taylor and seven points and four boards from Georonika Jackson. Senior Amy Beggin had only seven points and two assists. UNM was 5-of-11 from the 3-point line. The Lobos outrebounded TCU 45-to-38 with Porche Torrance hauling down eight boards. Torrance also had five assists and three steals.
TCU shot 43.3 percent in the first half in running to its early lead. The Lobo defense toughened up in the second half, holding the Horned Frogs to 33.3 percent shooting. TCU was led by TK Lafleur with 17 points and 10 boards. UNM had 18 turnovers, fueled by 10 TCU steals.
"We were careless with our passes and their speed and quickness bothered us," said Flanagan. "Almost every turnover led to a (TCU) basket. They got really quick kids, who get down the floor.
"I was happy with what we did in the second half. I think we probably played better than they did the second half. I was just disappointed we came out so soft at the beginning and didn't go at them."
TCU ran to a 51-33 lead before UNM pulled to 55-46. A few Lobo turnovers let TCU roll in for the 66-56 final.
"We had some ill-advised passes and didn't take some hard cuts," said Flanagan. "I'm OK with (the game). This is a tough place to play. We played a good second half and I don't think we are down. I'm a little upset we weren't more determined in the first half, but I'm OK with it.
"The only team that beat us twice this year was Utah and one of those was without Amy. I think we are capable (of having a good MWC tourney). We'll look at the positive side of this and go to work for the tournament."