STEVENS: Lobos Coast Into Championship Game Off 77-55 Win
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/27/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 27, 2009

Box Score | Postgame Quotes | Lobo TV: Postgame Press Conference

Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament
Lobos 77, North Carolina A&T 55; Toledo 78, Yale 61
Saturday: Yale vs. NC A&T, 5 p.m.; Lobos vs. Toledo, 7:15 p.m.

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It wasn't easy at the beginning, wasn't all that easy in the first half, but the New Mexico Lobos ending up coasting to an easy 77-55 win over North Carolina A&T Friday night in The Pit.

"I liked the way we played," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "We started slow. We started without Amy, but we figured things out." UNM's senior All-American candidate Amy Beggin missed her first start in 73 games, due to missing some practice time nursing a sprained ankle.

The win pushes UNM into Saturday's championship game of the Holiday Inn & Suites Express Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament against Toledo, a 78-61 winner over Yale.

The Lobos trailed the A&T Aggies 20-15 early in the first half before going on a 19-7 run that produced a 34-27 halftime lead for the Lobos. UNM outscored the Aggies 43-28 in the second half.

The Aggies opened with an extended zone, limiting UNM's trey opportunities and challenging UNM to beat them inside or on the drive. The Lobos had a little trouble with that look early, but figured it out about halfway through the first half.

"We did a nice job of figuring out their defense," said Flanagan. "I thought they would press us more, but I think they were a little bit afraid of the altitude."

Said Amanda Best on the zone: "It was something different and it took us a little bit to figure out what to do."

The Lobos were paced by Beggin with 19 points, Amanda Best with 15 and Lauren Taylor with 12. Best added eight rebounds, although UNM was outrebounded 40-to-29. The Aggies had 19 turnovers to 11 for the Lobos. Jessica Kielpinski had eight points, three assists, four blocked shots and one steal.

UNM shot 62.1 percent from the floor in the second half and 53.4 percent for the game. NC A&T shot 37.5 percent on the night. Jaquayia Berry was the only Aggie to reach double figures with 14.

"I thought Amy had a great game," said Flanagan. "Shooting 62 percent in the second half made me feel real good. Everything was pretty positive. On defense we wanted to hold them to 55 and we still did."

Toledo didn't have much trouble in the first game with Yale, posting a 78-61 win with four players in double figures: Tanika Mays (12), Courtney Ingersoll (14), Jessica Williams (11) and Clare Aubry (11). Mays added seven rebounds.

Toledo was 6-of-10 from behind the line. Tale had 31 turnovers and Toledo had 30. Toledo shot 61.2 percent from the floor, making 11 more field goals than Yale.

"They are very aggressive and play pressure defense," said Flanagan. "They have a nice team and they play pretty hard and pretty fundamental."

Said Best: "They (Toledo) are a team that hustles and scraps."

Beggin played on a sore ankle, but still logged 28 minutes. Flanagan said she missed her 74th start as a Lobo because her ankle kept her out of too much practice time going into the A&T game.

"It's all good," said Beggin. "Georonika (Jackson) deserved to start and we have a lot of people who can start. It doesn't matter to me (coming off the bench). I just want to help the team anyway I can. I just want to win."

Flanagan played all 13 players. "It's important that we expand our bench," he said. "We need ten kids who can get in there and feel comfortable about competing."

Taylor opened up the second half with a baseline jumper to extent the Lobos' 34-27 halftime lead to 36-27. Taylor struck again a few feet deeper to make it 39-27. The Lobos' superior shooting ability was beginning to make a difference.

Halasz scored underneath to make it 41-27. The Aggies finally cracked the scoreboard on a cut inside that produced a layup. Beggin countered with a trey and UNM was up 44-31. The Lobos then drifted away. A trey by Beggin made it 54-36. A Best trey made it 59-42 going into the 9:27 break. The Lobos cruised to the 22-point win.

First Half -- Lobos 34, NC A&T 27

North Carolina A&T drifted out to leads of 10-4 and 14-8 before a 3-pointer by Taylor got the Lobos to 14-13.

At the 7:34 media break, North Carolina A&T was up 17-15. The Lobos had thrown a zone of their own at the Aggies and began to have better luck attacking the A&T zone.

A big problem for UNM at that point was the rebounding numbers that leaned toward the Aggies, 18-to-6. A&T was outshooting UNM 44.4 percent to 31.6 percent. One stat that kept the score tight was six turnovers by A&T to none for the Lobos.

The Aggies came out of that 7:34 break and went up 20-15. Jackson went to work on the Aggies scoring on a baseline drive and then banging in a trey from the left side to tie the game 20-all.

Porche Torrance tied it again, 22-all on a 15-foot turnaround. At the 3:52 mark, the score was still locked 22-22. The board margin was now 20-to-9 and the turnover gap was 7-to-2.

Valerie Kast scored inside at 3:15 to make it 24-all. Jackson gave UNM it's first lead of the game, 25-24, dropping in the front end of a one-and-one. Beggin then hit one free shot to make it 26-24.

Beggin found Best alone under the basket to hand the Lobos their biggest lead at 28-24. Beggin extended it to 30-24 on a breakaway layup. The Lobos were on an 8-0 run. Jackson hit two free throws to push UNM up 32-25. Best scored on a drive at the buzzer to form the 34-27 halftime score.

The Aggies doubled the Lobos on the boards in the first half 24-to-12. A&T had ten turnovers to three for UNM. The Lobos ended up shooting 44.8 percent to 42.9 percent for the Aggies. Best had ten first-half points and five rebounds. Jackson had eight points for the Lobos. The Lobos finished the first half outscoring the Aggies 19-to-7.