March 30, 2009
What: Women's National Invitation Tournament
Monday: Kansas 78, Lobos 69
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
RIO RANCHO -- "Bummed" was a word of Amy Beggin's choosing and, yeah, it was a bummer.
The New Mexico Lobos feel-good ride through the Women's National Invitation Tournament, a ride warmly embraced by the Santa Ana Star Center, ended Monday night in a season-ending 78-69 loss to Kansas in the WNIT quarterfinals.
"It has to come to an end sometime," said senior Angela Hartill. "Unfortunately, it didn't go our way."
And unfortunately, the Lobos really didn't have a defensive answer for Kansas' Danielle McCray, who put up 32 points on the Lobos going 10-of-19 from the floor and 8-of 11 from the free throw line.
The Jayhawks had three other players in double figures. Kansas also used the line to outscore UNM by five points, going 26-of-36 to 21-of-24 for the Lobos.
"I think they attacked the basket more than we did," said Beggin, not biting on a question concerning UNM being whistled for 26 fouls compared to 19 for Kansas.
The Lobos ended their season in classy fashion after the game crediting the Jayhawks as the better team.
"They finished better than we did," said Flanagan, admitting Kansas was the better team on this night. "They really controlled the game. (McCray) is a player. Obviously, she is in a different class. She has a game and she can put it on the floor.
"I'm proud of what (the Lobos) did this season and what they accomplished. We got three really quality games at the end of the year and that really helped us."
The loss Monday ended the season for UNM and also for the Lobos' two seniors, Amanda Adamson and Angela Hartill. Hartill ended with 15 points to tie Beggin, a junior, for UNM's scoring honors. Amanda Best added 11 points and Georonika Jackson scored 10 points.
Adamson had a senior-like floor game with seven assists, two blocks, one steal and seven rebounds. She also had one of the bigger defensive plays of the night when she blocked a McCray layup after McCray got an offensive rebound on a missed free throw.
Kansas was up 50-46 at that point and UNM controlled the blocked shot and quickly cut the Jayhawks' lead to 50-48 on two free throws by Hartill with 12:46 to play.
The Lobos also cut into Kansas' lead at 58-56 with 9:41 to play, 62-60 at the 7:49 mark and 66-64 with 5:58 to play. But Kansas had McCray and too many other answers on offense down the stretch. The Jayhawks went up 71-66 with 4:56 to go and 73-68 with 3:38 to play and pulled away to the 78-69 final.
"I'm happy it happened," said Adamson of the postseason experience at the Star Center. "We got a lot out of the WNIT."
Said Beggin: "We are kind of bummed our season is over. (McCray) is a great player and she really hit some clutch shots." McCray also led all players with nine rebounds and seven turnovers.
Actually, a lot of Jayhawks hit some clutch shots and after the visitors grabbed the lead at 17-16 the best the Lobos could do was slide into a 22-all tie. Kansas led 36-28 with 19 seconds to go in the first half before Georonika Jackson hit a trey to form the 36-31 halftime score.
Kansas went up 41-31 at the 17:26 mark of the second half, but couldn't lose the Lobos, who seemed to find energy they really didn't have with the help of the 5,620 fans.
UNM cut a 48-41 Kansas lead to 48-46, but every time UNM would pull close the Jayhawks would hit a big bucket or two. When UNM pulled to 50-48 with 12:14 to go, McCray hit back-to-back treys to vault her team into a 56-48 lead. She followed an Amanda Best layutp with her own layup and Kansas was up 58-50.
That basically was the game's pattern anytime UNM would pull close. And if it wasn't McCray doing the damage from all over, it was some Jayhawk scoring inside.
"I think fatigue was a factor for us," said Flanagan. "(Beggin) missed some shots she normally wouldn't miss and I think fatigue was a factor in that." The Lobos were coming off a physical and hard-fought win over Oregon State on Friday night in the Star Center.
Beggin went 7-of-8 from the line, but was 3-of-11 from the field. Hartill was 7-of-7 from the line and 4-of-13 from the floor. The Lobos were hurt a bit in the first half when they only got eight minutes from Hartill and seven from Sara Halasz, both on the bench with two fouls.
Still, the Lobos got close enough in the second half to run past Kansas, but couldn't stop the Jayhawks' offense -- especially McCray.
"Not too many people have scored 70 points on us," said Beggin. "You have to give them credit."
The Lobos ended the season 25-11. Kansas marches on to the NIT semifinals with a 21-13 mark. The Lobos ended the game shooting 34.9 percent from the floor while Kansas lite it up at a 49 percent clip. The Jayhawks out rebounded UNM 39-33, but Kansas held a 21-11 edge on the boards at the half.
"Their defense was quite good and quick and really helped each other out," said Flanagan. "They had go-to people they could get a lot of points out of. They were a little quicker than we were."
Said Beggin: "I think we got a lot out of the WNIT."