Stevens: Lobos & Sanchez Notch First Win of Season & Career
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/22/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 22, 2011

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Tuesday: Lobos 54, Eastern New Mexico 33
Up Next: Hilton Garden Inn/Lobo Thanksgiving Tournament - Nov. 25-26

Friday: 5 p.m., Pepperdine vs. Idaho; 7 p.m., Lobos vs. Morehead State

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In sports, for coaches and players, there are really no "U-W" notations in the won-lost column. For a first-year head coach, seeking her first-ever win, there also are no "U-Ws" - Ugly Wins.

"In the win-loss column, there is only a W or an L," said Lobo coach Yvonne Sanchez after New Mexico earned its first W of the season with an easy 54-33 roll over Eastern New Mexico Tuesday night in The Pit.

"If we win ugly and gut it out, that's what we have to do sometimes. Our offense wasn't great. It's tough to play a team like that that has four guards and we're trying to match up. But we're excited to have our first win."

Actually, the Zias have nothing but guards as their tallest player is still under 6-foot. The Lobos' starting lineup isn't exactly massive, but on this night they had the size advantage inside and it paid off.

It paid off early as UNM went inside to Porche Torrance, who scored UNM's first eight points and pushed the Lobos up 8-2. It paid off late as the Lobos again went inside to Torrance, who helped spark a Pit run that helped UNM expand a 27-23 lead.

"Porche did a nice job sealing and finishing inside," said Sanchez, whose Lobos play host to Pepperdine, Idaho and Morehead State Friday and Saturday in the Hilton Garden Inn/Lobo Thanksgiving Tournament.

"It was an ugly game today," said Sanchez. "We started going four out with Porche inside."

The Lobos rolled to a 27-19 halftime lead, shooting only 25.8 percent in the half. "I told them some special things," Sanchez said of her halftime talk.

The Zias came out of the break and cut UNM's eight-point lead to 27-23. "We can't just panic because the game gets down to four points or two points," said Torrance. "We just have to keep our composure."

The Lobos separated themselves from the Zias by upping the defensive intensity and hitting a few shots. A Nikki Nelson trey pushed UNM up 30-23 and Eastern couldn't get off that 23 stop sign until the 9:10 mark. Then it was too late as UNM was up 44-25.

"To get my first win with these guys is special," said Sanchez. "They are a great group and I wouldn't want to get a first win with anybody but these guys."

If the Lobos - and Sanchez - want additional motivation for the Hilton Garden/Lobo tourney, it's there. The 1-3 Lobos are still looking for their first win against a D-I opponent. The Lobos open with Morehead State, an athletic team that likes to up-tempo a game.

"They are going to pressure, pressure, pressure," said Sanchez. "We have to be ready to take care of the ball."

The Lobos had only 13 turnovers against Eastern, but too many Lobo miscues were unforced. Torrance said the Lobos have to come out with a higher level of intensity this weekend.

Torrance led UNM with 14 points and nine boards. She was the only Lobo to shoot better than 50 percent on the night. UNM shot 12.5 percent (2-of-16) from 3-point range, but helped itself shooting 84.2 percent (16-19) from the line.

Caroline Durbin, for the first time in four games, did not lead the Lobos in scoring, but the talented junior did reach double figures for the fourth time with 12 points. She added seven boards. Chinyere Nnaji had seven boards and Nelson added six rebounds to the UNM total.

UNM ended the game shooting 32.1 percent, helped by 40 percent shooting in the second half. The taller Lobos won the board battle 50-35. UNM had 11 steals to help push Eastern into 18 turnovers. UNM had 13 miscues. UNM had eight blocks. Lobo Jayme Jackson had five assists to one turnover.

Eastern had only one player in double figures, Hannah Altheide with ten points. Eastern had trouble shooting over the taller Lobos and finished at 22 percent - 20 percent in the second half. The Zias did not make a trey in the second half.

Lobo Porche Torrance muscled inside for 14 points and nine boards.

"A win is a win," said Durbin. "Sometimes wins are going to be ugly, but at the end of the day, it's still a win."

Second Half: Lobos 27, Eastern NM 14

The Zias came out of the break and made it interesting - for a while. The Zias cut UNM's eight-point lead to 27-23 before Nelson launched a trey to hand the Lobos a 30-23 count. The Lobos turned that into a 35-23 lead that convinced Eastern to burn a timeout.

At the 11:57 break in the second half, Eastern was still on that 23 count and down 40-23. UNM was shooting 38.5 percent from the field in the second half at that point.

Torrance became active again under the bucket - and her teammates did a better job of getting her the ball. She scored twice inside to push UNM up 44-23. "I had to post up and take it to the basket," said Torrance. " I just told myself I have to finish."

Eastern finally hit a bucket to get off that 23 mark: 44-25. UNM coasted to the 54-33 final.

First Half - Lobos 27, Eastern NM 19

The Zias scored the first bucket of the game to go up 2-0 and then the Lobos had their way inside - specifically Torrance, who scored eight straight allowing UNM to take an 8-2 lead into the 15:46 media break. Torrance was 3-of-4 from the field at that mark and her teammates were 0-of-5. The Zias were 1-of-4 from the floor.

Durbin joined Torrance in the scoring column to make it 10-2. A 12-0 Lobo run was finally snapped by a Zia trey by Tori Northcutt to form a 12-5 UNM lead. At the 7:44 break, UNM was up 18-9. The Lobos were dominating play, but not lighting it up from the field.

At the 3:44 break, UNM was up 22-14. The Lobos were shooting 7-of-25 from the field for 28 percent. The Lobos had only seven turnovers at that point, but several were unforced. Torrance had not scored since her opening 8-0 run for UNM.

Durbin hit her eighth point of the half to push UNM up 27-16. UNM let Hannah Altheide get open at the top of the key and the Zia drilled a trey to form the 27-19 halftime count.

Durbin ended the first half with 10 points followed by Torrance with her early eight. UNM won the glass battle 26-19. Neither team was sizzling from the floor with UNM shooting 25.8 percent and Eastern at 24 percent. Eastern was able to hang around going 3-of-9 from beyond the arc while UNM was 0-of-8 over the Eastern zone.

The Zias had trouble with UNM inside and the taller Lobos were 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. UNM had nine offensive boards.