Dec. 8, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit
Saturday: Arizona Wildcats 58, New Mexico Lobos 53
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Run a finger across the lines of stats for New Mexico and Arizona and there were only two big differences: at the 3-point line that favored Arizona by six treys and the final score that favored the Pac-12 Wildcats 58-53.
After that, there weren't many statistical gaps.
UNM had one more board (43-42), one more turnover (18-17), one more field goal (21-20), one less assist (12-13), one less free throw (10-11) and outshot Arizona by one percent: 33.3 percent to 32.3 percent. The Lobos took one more shot than the `Cats - 63 to 62.
"It's disappointing because this is a game we let get away," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "We had every opportunity to take this game away from them and we just didn't do it."
The Lobos, now 7-3, even played better defense in the second half holding Arizona to 26.5 percent shooting. However, UNM allowed Arizona's Kama Griffitts to nail two 3-pointers in the final 2:47 to help the Wildcats hand UNM its second Pit loss of the young season.
"She's a good shooter. She hit big shots down the stretch," UNM's Sara Halasz said of Arizona's Griffitts.
Coach Sanchez said she told her Lobos that one shot doesn't lose a game, but one shot can win it. "Number ten (Griffitts) won it," said Sanchez.
One of the biggest categorical edges was somewhat of a surprise. The Lobos beat the Wildcats in the quick-hands category with 13 steals to nine. But the Wildcats' press and pressure was effective even when not creating turnovers. The Lobos missed some easy shots, especially in the first half.
"We had shots. We broke their press," said Sanchez. "We shot 29 percent (first half). Those are shots we hit every day. We had shots and shots that we usually make. I thought our defense was very good, but you have to make shots when you are at home and we didn't do that."
Said UNM's Whitney Johnson: "We all have off shooting nights. There's not much you can say there. The whole team was a little off tonight."
Johnson was the only Lobo of the eight who played, who shot 50 percent. She went 4-of-8 from the floor and finished with nine points and seven boards. "Whitney had a great game," said Sanchez. "It was probably the best I've seen her play."
Halasz was UNM's only player in double figures with 12 points. Durbin had nine points and Deeva Vaughn added eight points and six boards.
But Durbin, Bryce Owens and Halasz combined to go 11-of-35 from the field. Owens and Durbin each went 3-of-11. UNM was 1-of-12 from long range and Arizona was 7-of-19 with their two targeted outside guns - Griffitts and Davellyn White -- creating the 7-of-19 column.
Arizona bulled to a 50-41 lead with 7:04 to play, but the Lobos went up 51-50 on a layup by Durbin at the 2:53 mark. Giffittts then hit the first of her two treys down the stretch to regain the lead for Arizona at 53-51. Durbin created a 53-53 tie at the line. UNM let Griffitts get open on the baseline and she nailed a trey at the 1:22 mark to hand Arizona a 56-53 lead.
"You have to take care of the little things," said Sanchez of allowing Griffiths to find open space. "It was a good play on their part, hitting 10 on the baseline."
The Lobos got open, but long, looks at 3-pointers from Owens (1:08) and Durbin (:20) but had narrow misses. UNM fouled Whyte with 16 seconds to play and she helped out UNM by missing the front end of a one-and-one.
Arizona got the offensive board and Griffitts was fouled with 10 seconds to play. She iced the win by making both shots to form the 58-53 final.
"It has to be a lesson," Sanchez said of the loss. "It has to be a growing experience. It's a disappointing loss, to all of us. Those kids (Lobos) are (disappointed), too. They work hard."
The Lobos played in front of their largest home crowd of the season at 7,928. "Our fans were willing us back in that thing," said Sanchez. "It was neat to have that crowd there. It's tremendous to have that many fans in a big game. It's just tough to have them walk away with a loss."
Second Half: New Mexico 27, Arizona 26
The Lobos hung around in the second half. It was 37-32 at 15:46 and 40-36 at 11:37. "We came out fighting. We didn't give up," said Halasz.
When UNM's Whitney Johnson spun in a layup at 10:10, the Lobos were down only 42-40 and Arizona burned a timeout. The Wildcats needed Whyte to take over and to get easier shots for their posts, who had trouble shooting over pressure. The Lobos needed a touch more Durbin.
The `Cats were drifting away, but not yet that far away.
Halasz missed two free throws. And Whyte burned UNM inside with another great pass. Alli Gloyd got the uncontested layup: 50-41. The Lobos then made a four-point run. Vaughn scored inside off a Halasz pass and Owens went coast-to-coast on a steal: 50-45.
Johnson boarded a Vaughn miss and it was 50-47. "At that point, game's not over," said Johnson. "The Pit is our house, our home. I think we all just wanted it for the team."
UNM forced a turnover, but Halasz turned it back on a bad pass. At the 3:53 break, Arizona was still up 50-47 and had ball possession. The `Cats missed and UNM turned it into a Johnson layup - plus one. Johnson missed the extra shot: 50-49.
"When we started coming back, was when we staring going right at the basket," said Sanchez. "It's just a process. We're still growing as a team."
The Cats, up 50-49, missed and Owens went down in transition, was blocked slightly from behind, but Durbin cleaned up the garbage: 51-50 in UNM's favor. Arizona's Griffitts then hit a trey to push the Wildcats back up: 53-51. Durbin got fouled underneath and hit both free shots: 53-53.
Arizona's Griffitts then hit her big baseline trey to hand Arizona a 56-53 lead. "She's a good shooter," said Halasz.
UNM's Owens came down and launched long from the top of the key, but missed. Whyte had a chance to drive but passed to one of her posts, who missed badly. UNM got the board and called time with 34 to play, down three. Durbin got a clean but long look at a trey and missed.
"We got Caroline a wide-open three there at the end," said Sanchez. "But that one shot didn't lose a game for us."
The Lobos fouled Whyte who was looking at a one-and-one with 16 ticks to go. She missed but Arizona got the board and Griffitts went to the line with 10.6 to play. She iced the win with two: 58-53.
First Half: Arizona Wildcats 32, New Mexico Lobos 26
The Lobos had mixed success against the Arizona full-court press and the turnover numbers actually favored UNM in the first half: UNM had nine turnovers and the `Cats had 10. The Arizona press, however, did seem to disrupt UNM on offense and a lot of the Lobo shots were not pretty. UNM shot 29.4 percent in the first half to 39.3 percent for Arizona.
UNM's starting five - Erskine, Nnaji, Owens, Halasz and Durbin - combined to go 7-of-27. UNM got six points from Halasz and the Wildcats got eight apiece from Kama Griffitts and Davellyn White, who only took five shots in the half, all from 3-point range. UNM won the boards, 22-17. Arizona went 4-of-11 from long range to 1-of-5 for UNM.