Stevens: Lobos Look For MW Win vs. Improving CSU Rams
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/24/2012
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 24, 2012

New Mexico Lobo Women's Basketball -- On The Mountain West Road

Wednesday: 7 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos (6-12, 0-4) at Colorado State (7-12, 3-1)
On The Air: 610-AM KNML
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Stats, Game Tracker

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

There are two things about Colorado State that get your attention in a hurry.

1. They have Kim Mestdagh, the Mountain West preseason pick for Player of The Year, and she is playing up to that hype.

2. The Rams won at Boise State by eight points where the Lobos lost by 19 points. That is a plus 27 points in CSU's favor.

"They are playing really well," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "(Sam) Martin is playing well. Mestdagh is playing well. They are going to work hard and go right at you."

The Rams' one-two punch is Mestdagh, a 5-10 wing, and Martin, a 6-2 post. Mestdagh averages 14.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists. She is all-around good. Martin is the muscle inside averaging 13.8 points and 5.7 boards. The Lobos also can't ignore the 6-2 Meghan Heimstra, who averages 8.1 points and 6.4 boards.

The Rams are 7-12 overall and have to be labeled as a mild surprise so far in the Mountain West race, especially after their 60-52 win at Boise State. The Rams' loss came at TCU. CSU also has wins over lowly Air Force and so-so Wyoming.

Still, the Rams have beaten two MW teams that beat up on the Lobos, so UNM definitely is looking for an upset in Fort Collins, Colo., in order to finally cut a notch on the win side of the Lobos' ledger.

"(We're) very desperate," said Lobo Jayme Jackson. "We have to get a win in our conference. Turnovers -- that's what is really killing us, and rebounding. It's the little things that are killing us."

Turnovers and rebounding aren't exactly little things when it comes to winning and losing basketball games. It also is helpful to put some points on the scoreboard. The Lobos get solid scoring from Caroline Durbin, who is averaging 14.9 points overall and 15.8 in UNM's four league games. Senior Porche Torrance is at 10.4 and 10.8 in conference.

After that, the Lobos' scoring takes a dip with UNM's next four scorers all shooting 33 percent or worse. Jackson said she needs to take more responsibility in helping Durbin and Torrance on the scoreboard.

"In a couple of games, I've been struggling," said the 5-foot-7 off guard. "I haven't been scoring. Now, I know I have to pick it up and help my teammates in scoring.

"I have to attack way more and look for more (shots). Sometimes, I just look to pass, trying to get someone else open."

Jackson hasn't scored in double figures since Nov. 26 when she scored 14 against Pepperdine. In the nine games prior to the UNLV game in The Pit on Saturday, Jackson had not scored more than six points. She scored nine on a good Vegas team, but the difference was more in mindset than in simple numbers. Jackson used her quickness and athleticism to attack the rim.

In UNM's four Mountain games, only one time has a player besides Durbin or Torrance reached double figures. The Lobos are allowing only 56.4 points per game on defense, which is good. They are scoring only 53.9 points, which isn't good. The Lobos' top scoring game in league play is 50 points, twice.

"It's easy to get down if you measure yourself on wins and losses," said Sanchez. "We're not going to make excuses.

"The kids we have are wonderful. These kids have responded. They care. They care about how they play. They care about the wins and they care about the losses. You can tell when a team shuts down. You can tell when a team is not going to play well for you.

"These kids have great heart and they have a great soul."

The Lobos are 0-4 in the Mountain West with a single Pit loss. They cannot afford many more losses and still expect to be in the hunt for the 2012 MW title. It's likely that the 2012 race will come down to San Diego State and UNLV.

Still, there is a Mountain West Tournament on the horizon and the Lobos need to keep improving.

"We're always going to prepare them," said Sanchez. "It's about getting them better as individuals and as at team."

Chinyere Nnaji


Probable StartersHTPositionSeason Statistics
12 - Nikki Nelson5-5Guard5.0 Pts. - 2.5 Rebs.
35 - Chinyere Nnaji6-0Post2.1 Pts. - 3.6 Rebs.
24 - Caroline Durbin6-0Guard14.9 Pts. - 4.1 Rebs.
23 - Porche Torrance6-1Wing10.4 Pts. - 8.7 Rebs.
21 - Jayme Jackson5-7Guard5.7 Pts. - 2.4 Rebs.

The NM BenchHTPositionSeason Statistics
11 - Lauren Taylor6-0Guard6.9 Pts. - 1.3 Rebs.
14 - Jourdan Erskine6-2Wing5.8 Pts. - 7.1 Rebs.
43 - Emily Stark6-5Post1.4 Pts. - 1.2 Rebs.
44 - Deeva Vaughn6-0Wing6.2 Pts. - 4.3 Rebs.
41 - Jaime Parker5-9Wing1.0 Pts. -- 0.5 Rebs.
33 - Maddie Muraida6-2Post0.4 Pts. - 1.1 Rebs.
25 - Ashley Rhoades6-2Post0.7 Pts. - 1.4 Rebs.