Jan. 21, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit
Saturday: UNLV Rebels 64, New Mexico Lobos 50
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
When you just throw out the finals stats, like Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez said, "There are a lot of positives." Of course, when you lose 64-50 to UNLV and score only 50 points on your home floor, there are a few negatives, too.
The positives for the Lobos were shooting 61 percent in the second half, hanging with the taller Rebels on the boards (32-30 Vegas), and getting 15 bench points to Vegas' 14.
However, it was the negatives that turned this Mountain West Pit contest Saturday into a final count that favored the Rebels. UNM (6-12, 0-4 MW) had 21 turnovers, allowed Vegas to pick their pockets 12 times, gave up 17 offensive boards to UNLV, and shot 16 fewer times than the visitors from Nevada.
"We'll learn from it and move on," said Sanchez. "We won't get discouraged. It's just those little things we need to clean up a bit."
There were several key areas in this contest. UNLV used an 18-6 close in the first half to grab a 32-23 halftime lead. UNM had been up 17-14. The Rebs also came out with a 6-0 run that pushed them up by 15 points, 38-23. That's a big hole for a UNM team not known for scoring in bursts.
Still, the Lobos were hanging around, shooting well, and only down 50-43 with 5:31 to play. Then the Lobos got sloppy with the basketball and the Rebs struck hard.
Lobo senior Porche Torrance turned the ball over on an in-bounds play with 4:57 to go. That miscue led to a 3-pointer by Reb Jamie Smith, who led all scorers with 17 points.
Then UNM's Chinyere Nnaji lost the ball on a drive that led to a Smith steal and a 3-pointer by Kelli Thompson. The Rebs were up 56-43 with 4:01 to play.
"It's a turnover and they get a three," said Sanchez. "Then they score another one. Instead of being down seven with momentum and the fans on your side, you're playing catch-up. UNLV gave us an opportunity to hang around a little bit and we didn't capitalize on it."
UNM then missed on the offensive end and UNLV banged down another trey and were up 59-43 with less than three minutes to play.
The loss had to be frustrating for Sanchez (and her Lobos) as the end of her bench was a gathering point for several injured Lobos: Sara Halasz, Whitney Johnson, Deeva Vaughn and Jourdan Erskine. Erskine is expected back at some point from a stress fracture, but Vaughn (concussion) is now out for the season joining Halasz and Johnson. Vaughn probably will shoot for a medical redshirt season.
"All year long we've tried not to make excuses," said Sanchez. "The people at the far end of the bench aren't coming back. That's the reality of it."
The Lobos' hot shooting in the second half allowed UNM to shoot 42.2 percent for the game. UNM shot 29.6 percent in the first half. UNLV ended up shooting 41 percent. UNLV's Smith was joined in double figures by Markiell Styles, who had 12 points and 10 boards. Styles had seven offensive boards and Vegas had 21 second-chance points to eight for the Lobos.
Lauren Taylor, who came off the bench to score 13 points to lead the Lobos, said the game was lost from "second-chance points" and "little hustle plays. Taylor also said, "at the end of the game, they were really breaking our zone down."
Caroline Durbin joined Taylor in double figures with ten points. Taylor had six turnovers and Torrance had five. Nikki Nelson had four steals for UNM. Torrance had eight boards and Nnaji had seven boards.
UNM's Jayme Jackson had nine points going 4-of-9 from the floor. "Jayme played one of her best games in a long time," said Sanchez.
The Lobos spend next week on the Mountain West road with a Wednesday game at Colorado State and a Saturday game at TCU.
Second Half: UNLV Rebels 32, New Mexico Lobos 27
The Lobos needed a good start to open the second half and didn't get it. The Rebs did. At the 18:16 mark, Sanchez burned a timeout with her Lobos in a 38-23 hole. UNLV opened the half with a 6-0 run to stretch their 9-point halftime lead to 15 points. At the 15:49 media break, UNLV was up 40-27.
The Lobos then threw out a 5-0 run that convinced Vegas to burn a timeout. Nelson started it with a 3-pointer and Jackson scored on a drive and a 10-foot jumper. The Lobos had pulled to 40-32.
The Lobos continued to claw and scratch. At the 7:12 media break, the Lobos were down 47-41 and in possession of the ball. UNM got a trey from Taylor and a baseline jumper over pressure from Durbin to pull into the six-point hole. UNM was shooting 63.6 percent from the floor at that point (7-11).
UNM came out of its huddle and lost the ball on a Durbin turnover. UNLV then went up 50-41 before a Durbin drive cut it to 50-43 with 5:25 to play.
What Sanchez has called her team's Achilles Heel then showed up to damage the Lobos' rally. Torrance turned the ball over on an in-bounds play. Smith hit a trey: 53-43. Nnaji then turned it over on a drive and UNLV's Kelli Thompson hit a trey: 56-43.
A UNM miss then led to yet another UNLV trey and it was 59-43. That pretty much ended it.
First Half: UNLV Rebels 32, New Mexico Lobos 23
The best news for the Lobos was the game starting with 6-foot-3 starting post, Lenita Sanford, sitting on end of the UNLV bench with her right knee wrapped. That slowed the Rebs down a bit inside, but they still had enough talent to carry a nine-point lead into the half.
The Lobos managed to win the board battle, 19-17, and were only outscored inside 18-14. UNLV got nine points off the bench to three for the Lobos coming off a Lauren Taylor 3-pointer. Taylor also had five turnovers and three fouls in the first half.
Reb Jamie Smith led all first-half scorers with 11 points, going 3-of-4 from long range. She also had seven boards and combined with 6-3 teammate Markiell Styles for 12 UNLV boards. Torrance and Jayme Jackson paced UNM's scoring with seven points each. UNM was hurt by shooting 29.6 percent in the first half. Torrance, Nelson, and Taylor combined to go 2-of-14 from the field.
UNLV's Smith did a good job defending UNM's Durbin, who scored only two points in the half and taking only two shots. A key to the second half would be getting Durbin open off screens.
The Lobos opened the game throwing a tight zone at the Rebels. UNM gave up some space on the edge, but packed the paint tightly. The Rebels threw up a lot of bad shots early.
UNM ran a good offense early and at the first media break a Torrance to Chinyere Nnaji pass inside had UNM sitting on a 9-3 lead. The Rebels' Jamie Smith hit her first open look to put UNLV on the board. The Lobos were shooting 60 percent at that first break to 16.7 percent for the Rebs.
The Rebs came out of the break with a little more energy and movement and formed a 9-all tie. At the 10:50 break, a 3-pointer by Taylor and a driving layup by Durbin helped the Lobos to a 14-13 lead.
The Lobos went up 17-14 on a Jackson drive, but UNLV's Smith hit her second bomb to produce a 17-all tie. UNLV drifted up 21-17. At the 6:46 break, the Rebs were up 23-17. UNM's shooting percentage had plummeted to 37.5 percent and UNLV's had soared to 45 percent. UNLV was up on the boards 12-9 at that mark.
The Rebs pushed their lead to 29-21 before Torrance picked up some garbage under the glass and scored to make it 29-23 with 2:17 to play. UNLV's Smith hit another 3-pointer to push the Rebs to a 32-23 halftime lead. UNLV ended the half outscoring UNM 18-6.