Stevens: Lobos Fall 57-54 on Buzzer-Beater by Loyola Lions
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  12/01/2011
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Dec. 1, 2011

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Thursday: Loyola Marymount 57, Lobos 54
Sunday: 1 p.m., New Mexico State at Lobos

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

For a moment, for a sweet follow-up shot by Lobo Chinyere Nnaji, it seemed like Lady Luck finally swooped into The Pit to favor some fortune on Yvonne Sanchez's Lobos.

But no!

In reality, the sweet shot that Nnaji flipped in with six seconds to play just made the heartbreak of UNM's 57-57 loss to Loyola Marymount all the more painful. UNM lost on a buzzer-beater by Loyola.

Nnaji's shot was a beauty. She muscled inside for a rebound off a missed Jayme Jackson jumper. Nnaji pivoted away from the basket at a bit of an awkward angle and flipped a high shot over the Marymount defense to produce a 54-54 tie.

"I thought we were going to go into overtime," said Nnaji. "I thought we'd get a stop and take them into overtime."

That's probably the way things would have gone nine times out of ten. And the Lobos played pretty good defense on the other end. There was no breakdown.

The Lions brought the ball down quickly, tossed it inside, but there was nothing there. A quick pass out to Monica DeAngelis produced a slightly hurried shot that seemed to leave her fingers just an instant before the final buzzer howled.

Of course, it tickled the twine as the Lions raced into a circle to huddle, hug and scream.

But it wasn't over just yet. The refs also went into a huddle over a TV monitor to see if the shot indeed left DeAngelis' fingers prior to the final horn. Then two of the officials backed away from the monitor and the third official took a look.

It was good - and it was a 3-pointer.

"It was just one of those plays," said Sanchez. "The kid hit a great shot. I told them losing sucks and it does. But I couldn't be prouder of them for what they have done and how they battle."

Said Durbin, who scored 24 for UNM: "The girl made a great shot. I was in her face. It's really tough to watch that. Coach reminded us that it's not that one shot that wins a game."

Well, that's true and that's not true. For sure, DeAngelis' shot won the game. But the Lion was put in that position by the 31 points tossed in by teammate Alex Cowling. "Cowling is a special player," said Sanchez. "She had a great game and that's what special players do."

Cowling was 12-of-21, going 4-of-5 from 3-point range. She continued to hit big buckets down the stretch.

So, did Durbin. So did Porche Torrance, who joined Durbin in double figures with 14 points. The only other Lobos to score at least two field goals on the night were Jackson with two and Lauren Taylor with two.

One of Taylor's shots was a trey - a big one at the 6:13 mark that cut the Lions' led to 49-47 -- and Taylor finished as UNM's No. 3 scorer with five points.

Cowling was the only Lion in double figures. DeAngelis scored nine and Hazel Ramirez had seven. At times, the game looked like a contest between Cowling and UNM's Durbin/Torrance combo.

Loyola Marymount's biggest lead of the game came at 42-32 with 14:32 to play. At the 10:17 mark, a Cowling jumper had the Lions up by nine, 49-40. Then the Lobos went on a run. Taylor's trey was followed by a Durbin layup and UNM had a 49-all tie. The Pit was into it.

Cowling then hit a jumper at 3:37 followed by one free throw at 2:54 followed by one free throw at 1:39 and the Lions were up 54-49. Durbin then launched a long trey from in front of the UNM bench and the score was 54-52. Cowling missed a jumper with 46 seconds to play and Taylor missed long with 30 seconds to play, but Durbin chased down the long rebound.

Jackson took her shot with eight ticks to go and Nnaji got the follow to produce the 54-all tie. "I had my chance and I shot it," said Nnaji.

"When we were down nine, we could have packed it in and gone through the motions," said Sanchez. "They battled and they came back. We got the opportunity to tie it and we did. It's hard for them, but I know their spirit isn't broken. We have another game Sunday (vs. NMSU)."

Porche Torrance puts on a move inside to score.

Sanchez had only eight healthy Lobos on Thursday as Deeva Vaughn and Nikki Nelson sat out. The Lions played 11 with eight Lions playing 20 minutes or more. Sanchez used only six Lobos 20 minutes or more. Jourdan Erskine played 32 minutes despite being ill. "That kid couldn't have been any sicker," said Sanchez.

Torrance had to twice leave the game with cramps and didn't return after hobbling off the court with 2:54 to play and UNM down four points.

"Porche would have helped a lot, but we tied it," said Durbin. "Chin (Nnaji) had a great shot and then they had a great shot at the end."

The Lobos ended the game shooting 42.3 percent and Loyola shot 42.2 percent. After Cowling, the other four Loyola starters combined to shoot 4-of-15. The Loyola bench shot 6-of-16. The Lobos went into the game knowing they had to stop Cowling, but the Lobos couldn't do it. Ditto for Loyola going at Durbin and Torrance.

Both teams shot 50 percent from behind the line with UNM going 5-of-10 and Loyola going 8-of-16. Amazingly, UNM shot only one free throw on the night.

UNM won the board battle 35-30. The Lobos had 11 turnovers and Loyola had nine. It was a clean game as far as turnovers and fouls. Loyola was whistled for seven fouls and UNM had nine called. Nnaji and Erskine each had seven boards for UNM followed by Torrance and Durbin with six apiece.