Jan. 30, 2013
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico women's basketball team were looking to take their aggression out on the Wyoming Cowgirls (16-4, 5-2 MW) after a 24-points loss to San Diego State just four days earlier in The Pit. New Mexico (10-9, 2-4 MW) turned the game into a defensive, grinding style affair for much of the first half before surrendering the 72-54 decision to the visitors from Laramie.
"Wyoming will take advantage of opportunities and they did. When they run their motion, they run their motion... I thought the connection (within the team) was a little bit better today. I really did. I think it was complete disconnect against San Diego State. I thought it was better today. Wyoming's just a team that will take advantage if you give them a chance, and we opened the door for them," commented Head Coach Yvonne Sanchez.
New Mexico let a halftime deficit of seven points turn into an 18-point loss when they were unable to put the brakes on the Wyoming offense in the second half. The defensive showdown of the first half saw both teams shoot less than 33% from the field and below 20% from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes of action. The two teams combined to score 51 points in the first half while combining to score 51 points in the second half with two media timeouts still remaining.
"We just shot 28 percent in the first half. Caroline missed shots she normally makes. Sara missed shots she normally makes. We just shot such a low percentage in the first half. Second half, we were 42 percent. It was a little bit better, but we missed shots early... And in the second half, we gave them another little run. That stretch really hurt us because it broke it open a little bit," said Sanchez of her team's shooting.
New Mexico was led by Deeva Vaughn who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds. It was the fourth time in her last five games that Vaughn has scored in double figures. She was joined by Sara Halasz who had a stat sheet-stuffing night. Halasz scored twelve points, grabbed six rebounds and tallied six assists in the loss.
Wyoming dominated the glass 50-35 with 16 offensive rebounds. That advantage fueled a 17-6 Wyoming edge in second chance points. The rebounding effort was led by Chandra Sewell. The conference's leading rebounder had 12 boards of her own to go with 17 points. Sewell was one of three double-digit scorers for the Cowgirls. Wyoming was led by Kayla Woodward who scored a game-high 20 points with seven rebounds and five steals. Supporting her was Kaitlyn Mileto who scored 18 points with 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
Wyoming shot 16-24 (66.7%) from the free throw line while UNM shot 4-7 (57.1%).
The script was flipped in the second half as New Mexico's offense picked up its play while the defense struggled to slow down Wyoming offensively. The Lobos were unable to string together a game-changing run in the early going of the second half. That was not the case for Wyoming who made nine of their first 15 shots of the half. Their single-digit lead turned to double digits with 13 minutes to go.
After being down as many as 16 points in the first twelve minutes of the half, Coach Sanchez and company would put together enough stops and successful offensive possessions to cut that lead in half. Wyoming led New Mexico 60-52 with 5:32 to play.
The run to cut the lead to single digits was fueled Sara Halasz. The redshirt junior scored or assisted on five of the team's seven made field goals during that span while also converting a three-point play.
Coach Sanchez and company would be unable to capitalize on the momentum that cut the lead to eight points. Eight points would be the closest they would come as Wyoming closed the game out with a 12-2 run in that final 5:32 of the game.
The game opened at a slow offensive pace for both teams that would carry through the entire first half. Both teams shot a combined 3-14 from the field in the first three minutes of the game. Part of that was due to New Mexico's sudden blocking prowess. New Mexico had five blocks in the first half, which was more than their previous four games combined.
It was a neck-and-neck affair for the first 18 minutes of the half as no team led by more than three points during that span. New Mexico took the lead at 14-11 with a Sara Halasz lay-up with 9:14 left in the first half. They held a 19-16 lead less than four minutes later before Wyoming made their run at the end of the half. The Cowgirls used a 13-3 run in the final 5:30 to erase the Lobo lead and take a seven-point lead of their own into the intermission.
Neither team broke 30 points at half as Wyoming led New Mexico 29-22. Wyoming entered the game leading the conference in field goal shooting (45.4%) and three-point shooting (38.5%). In the first half they shot 32.4% from the field and 14.3% from beyond the arc.
New Mexico, whose calling card has been rebounding for most of the season, was uncharacteristically dominated on the glass by Wyoming by 13 rebounds in the first half.