Feb. 4, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The turnaround point in conference play showed a valiant comeback effort fall short for the Lobos as Boise State escaped the Pit with a 68-64 victory on Saturday afternoon in The Pit. New Mexico fell to 7-15 overall, 2-7 in the conference to start off the second half of Mountain West action.
Unlike the first game between Boise State (12-11, 3-5 MW) and New Mexico, both teams' offenses were stunted early on Saturday. Neither team scored in double figures until more than 11 minutes elapsed in the first half. The game featured nine lead changes and seven ties, and was fairly evenly matched until about 12 minutes remained in the game.
The Broncos managed to cling to a narrow lead for most of the contest and were never up by more than five until 6:58 remained on the clock. The difference-maker that the Broncos needed came in the form of Lauren Lenhardt's second half return to the game.
While Lenhardt played just five minutes in the first half due to two quick fouls, she scored five straight for BSU to turn a tie game at 40-40 into a 45-40 lead around the 12-minute mark. Lenhardt finished the contest with 16 points and five rebounds -- all of which, except for one rebound, came in the second half.
"She was the difference in the second half," head coach Yvonne Sanchez said of Lenhardt. "She was in foul trouble the first half, but the second half she comes in and -- you know, she's a heck of a player. She's averaging 20 points and she shoots 54 percent from the 3-point line, so you know any time she is on the bench, it's good.
"But she was pretty smart to stay out of foul trouble the second half. She ended the game with only those two fouls, so we didn't go at her well enough. She did a nice job of coming off stagger screens. She has a nice shot and she definitely was the difference."
The aforementioned five points were the start of a 21-8 run for the Broncos, giving them their largest lead of the game at 15 points with four minutes to play. But the Lobos didn't go away quietly.
A 12-2 run fueled by Caroline Durbin with nine points ensued, and the Lobos found themselves once again down by only five, 65-60, with under two minutes to play. The teams traded free throws to bring the score to 67-62 with one minute to play. The Lobos got a stop and drove the length of the court, but missed on three chances to score in the paint before putting Boise on the line.
The 1-for-2 effort from Cinnamon Lister put the Broncos up 68-62 and Porche Torrance's layup cut the lead to four. But the Broncos secured an offensive rebound and averted the expected foul to take the 68-64 win.
Durbin led the Lobos with 27 points, just two shy tying her career high, while Torrance logged her fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 15 boards. The final stats read similarly for both teams. New Mexico shot 40.4 percent from the floor, 30 percent from downtown and 75 percent from the line on the game while Boise shot 41, 33.3 and 76.5 percent, respectively. UNM outscored the Broncos 32-30 in the paint but gave up 15 points on 20 turnovers. The turnovers, Sanchez said, continue to be UNM's Achilles' heel.
"The formula is really taking care of the ball," Sanchez said. "Again, we did a lot of good things, but 20 turnovers is just not going to cut it. We had 10 in the first half, and they didn't even really press us in the first half. It was getting the ball up, down to the front court, and then getting a travel, or -- I don't know if we got any illegal screens or not, those are turnovers, but I just put them aside. I know those are going to happen in the offense that we run, but just needless travels, needless throwing the ball away -- we've got to correct that.
"I know it's been November since I've been saying that, but we've got to correct it and we've got to keep working on it."
The Lobos will take to the road once again next weekend as they visit Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., next Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest.
The first 20 showcased a slow start for both teams that went on to become a back-and-forth battle with five lead changes and five ties.
Both UNM and BSU scored just four points apiece headed into the first media timeout. The Broncos put up a lone three in their 1-for-8 shooting effort over the first four minutes, while New Mexico logged a 2-for-6 effort.
The scoring struggle continued as both teams got quality looks at the basket but couldn't convert for points. New Mexico shot 33.3 percent from the floor while Boise logged a slightly better 37.9 percent effort. Turnovers also plagued the Lobos and the Broncos with 10 apiece in the first half alone.
At the 13:30 mark, Boise's Kati Isham gave the Broncos their first lead of the game, 6-4, on a jumper just outside the lane. New Mexico's Jourdan Erskine answered with one of her own, but Isham struck again on a three-ball to put BSU up 9-6 with just under 12 minutes left on the clock.
Boise put double-figures on the board first on a pair of free throws by Nicole Brady, and by that time the clock hand wound down to under the nine minute mark. Over the next few minutes, both teams traded baskets and Boise was able to build to a five-point lead. The Lobos stayed close, but Boise held the lead until just over two minutes remained. Durbin tied the game again for the fifth time on a long three, but Boise's 7-4 run over the final few minutes of the half sent the visitors into the locker room with a 29-26 lead.
The Lobos came out hot with the first four points of the half on a quick jumper from Chinyere Nnaji in the paint followed by one from Durbin to go up 30-29 with 18:25 to play. The Broncos answered with a layup from Brady and managed to cling to the lead for the next five minutes until another pair of free throws by Torrance gave New Mexico a 38-37 edge.
New Mexico stuck close until the 12-minute mark, when Lenhardt's return kicked off a 21-8 run to Boise's largest lead of the game at 15 points. But a sharp-shooting effort from New Mexico's Durbin allowed the Lobos to claw their way back to within four, but the Broncos held on for the 68-64 win.