March 4, 2009
Wednesday: Utah 57, Lobos 54
Up Next: Lobos vs. Wyoming, 2 p.m. Saturday, The Pit
SALT LAKE CITY -- The ending for the Lobos at Utah was all too similar to the UNM/Utah ending in The Pit. Lobo junior Amy Beggin got off a shot in the final seconds that fell short and the Utah Utes escaped with another narrow win.
"It was a tough game," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "I think we played maybe our best game of the year. It's hard to win here and they (Utah) knew this was going to be a big game."
The Lobos lost to Utah 53-50 in The Pit. This time it was 57-54 Wednesday night in the Utes' Huntsman Center.
The Lobos made a brave rally from a 40-30 deficit in the second half and closed to 53-52 and 55-54 on a lay up by Amanda Best with 59 seconds to play. Best came up big for UNM at the other end of the court by blocking a shot by Utah's Janita Badon and Flanagan called a timeout with 42 seconds to play.
The Utes played solid defense and UNM was forced to call another timeout with nine seconds on the shot clock and 21 seconds on the game clock. The Lobos needed a bucket. The Utes needed a stop.
Lobo junior Amy Beggin rolled off an Angela Hartill screen to launch a trey, but her shot bounced off the rim. Badon got the rebound and was fouled with ten seconds to play. The Ute made both free throws to put Utah up 57-54.
The Utes pressed and tried to keep the ball out of Beggin's hands, but the Lobo managed to get off a 3-pointer with two seconds to play that was short. Utah controlled the ball and snatched the three-point win.
"We did a pretty darn good job," said Flanagan. "The whole game was just about even. They just had a little more firepower than we did."
A win would have clinched the No. 4 seed for UNM in next week's Mountain West Conference Championship, but the Lobos can still grab that fourth spot with a win Saturday in The Pit against Wyoming. If the Cowgirls win in Albuquerque, Wyoming will get the No. 4 seed with its sweep over UNM and the Lobos will carry the No. 5 seed.
The loss dropped UNM to 19-9 overall and 8-7 in the MWC. Utah got one step closer and one step away from the 2009 MWC crown by bumping its league mark to 13-2 with one game to play: at TCU.
The Lobos' seed might not be finalized for the MWC tourney in Las Vegas, Nev., but the Lobos will open the tourney Tuesday at either 2 p.m. or 4:30 p.m.
The Utes went on an 8-0 run to grab a 34-30 halftime lead and went on a 6-0 run to open the second half and take a 40-30 lead. Then the Lobos began to scratch back.
Utah's Morgan Warburton led all scorers with 21 points and Ute Kalee Whipple tossed in 13 points. The Lobos got 11 points from Hartill, ten points from Sara Halasz and ten from Amanda Adamson. Beggin was held to seven points. Hartill had nine rebounds and Adamson had two steals.
"Warburton is almost impossible to stop. She's a tough kid," said Flanagan.
UNM shot 40 percent from the field and 3-of-13 from 3-point range. Utah shot 40.4 percent and 6-of-12 from behind the line. Both teams had 15 turnovers and UNM won the board battle 31-to-29. Utah went 13-of-15 from the free throw line.
The Lobos held the lead from the beginning of the game until 1:10 remained in the first half. The Lobos missed the front end of a one-and-one and followed that with two turnovers to help fuel an 8-0 Utah run that handed Utah a 34-30 halftime lead.
"We turned it over too many times in the first half and right at the end of the first half, we let it get away from us a little bit," said Flanagan.
The Lobos also led 22-16, but were outscored 18-8 in the final 9:30 of the half. Adamson led UNM in the first half with eight points followed by Hartill with six and Halasz with five points.
"The most important thing is that we don't carry the negativity (of losing)," said Flanagan. "I just told them (Lobos) what a great game they played and that they needed to keep their heads up, that there was a new season coming up (MWC tourney).
"We have to play well against Wyoming and then take the positives of what we've been doing (to the MWC tourney). We're playing well."