Nov. 24, 2011
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- Friday marks the kickoff of the New Mexico Lobos’ annual Thanksgiving Tournament, and will feature a 7 p.m. marquee game between the Lobos and the Eagles of Morehead State.
New Mexico’s game will be immediately preceded by a neutral event between the Idaho Vandals and the Pepperdine Waves. The winners of both Friday games will match up at 7 p.m. on Saturday for a championship game, while a consolation contest will be played at 5 p.m.
The Lobos are coming off a mid-week win, 54-33, over Eastern New Mexico. The victory marked the first of the 2011 season for New Mexico, as well as the first Yvonne Sanchez’s head coaching career. It put the Lobos at 1-3 headed into game one of the tournament.
New Mexico will continue to look to sharp-shooter Caroline Durbin, who has spearheaded the offense thus far and notched her fourth straight double-digit scoring effort against ENMU on Tuesday. The junior put up 12 points and grabbed seven boards, but it was senior Porche Torrance who led the team in total points for the first time of the season. While Durbin was the top scorer in the team’s first three regular season outings, as well as in exhibition play, Torrance’s 14 points and nine rebounds served to lead the Lobos in both categories on Tuesday.
Torrance and Durbin will likely be joined on the court at tip-time by juniors Jourdan Erskine and Jayme Jackson, as well as senior point guard Nikki Nelson. Erskine recorded a season-high in rebounds with 13 against a ranked Oklahoma squad, while Jackson has scored in double-figures in two of the team’s four games. The junior college transfer earned her first start as a Lobo against Oklahoma, and is expected to retain the spot as the season progresses.
It’s been two years since New Mexico has claimed its own tournament title, with the last time being in 2008 by way of wins over William and Mary and Nebraska. The team is looking to take the momentum from Tuesday’s win into the weekend in effort to take first place in The Pit.
Standing in the way will be head coach Tom Hodges’ Eagles out of Morehead State, members of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Eagles record matches the Lobos’ 1-3, with their most recent loss coming at the hands of Marshall, (83-66) in Johnson Arena.
Morehead is led offensively by Courtney Lumpkin and Linda Dixon, two seniors with 16.3 and 15.8 points per game respectively. They will likely be joined on the floor by Almesha Jones, Ashar Harris and Tyler Ituen. Harris is coming off her second double-double of the season against Marshall, when she displayed a 16 point, 15 rebound performance.
Should New Mexico top Morehead in Friday’s game, it will face the winner of the 5 p.m. neutral game in the championship matchup on Saturday evening. Idaho, a member of the Western Athletic Conference, is 1-3 on the year and coming off a three-game loss streak. Pepperdine, hailing from the West Coast Conference, is 2-3 and coming off of a single-game loss.