March 2, 2009
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- New Mexico (19-8, 8-6 MWC) women's basketball will travel to Salt Lake City Wednesday to take on MWC-leader Utah (19-8, 12-2 MWC) inside the Huntsman Center at 7 p.m. The Lobos and Utes will try to gain momentum as the regular-season winds down and the conference championship quickly approaches. UNM enters Wednesday's game in fourth place in the conference standings. The game will be available on 610 AM The Sports Animal with GameTracker available on www.GoLobos.com.
SCOUTING UTAH - Utah is 19-8 on the season and 12-2 in the Mountain West Conference. The Utes currently sit in sole possession of first place in the league standings with two games remaining. Utah has the two top scorers in the conference this season in Morgan Warburton and Kalee Whipple. Warburton, who is a senior, leads the conference with 19 points per game and ranks 22nd nationally in points per game. Warburton also ranks fourth nationally in free throw percentage. Whipple enters Wednesday game averaging 17.2 points per game.
The Utes have won three of their last four games with their loss coming at UNLV, 68-55, on Feb. 25. Utah is shooting 45.3 percent from the field and ranks second nationally in free throw percentage 81.5. The Utes are seventh nationally in field goal percentage defense, 13th in rebound margin and 29th in scoring defense. Utah has three players scoring in double figures.
SERIES INFORMATION - The Utes lead the all-time series with New Mexico, 45-18, and have won five of the last six meetings. Utah defeated UNM earlier this year, 53-50, inside The Pit. The Utes swept both games last year despite being two thrillers. The last win for New Mexico over Utah was on Feb. 8, 2007 in Salt Lake City, 73-65.
The Utah-New Mexico series has been must-see events over the last couple of years. Earlier this year, UNM led the Utes for 39 minutes but a last minute rally gave Utah a 53-50 victory inside The Pit. The Utes have won four of the last five games in the series and all have been by four points or less.
LAST OUTING - UTAH BEATS BYU INSIDE THE HUNTSMAN - Utah completed the BYU sweep Saturday with a 59-54 victory inside the Huntsman Center. The Utes were led by 18 points from senior Morgan Warburton and 17 points from Katie King. Utah shot 53.5 percent from the field and drained five three-pointers. BYU had three players reach double figures but shot a dismal 54.5 perent from the free throw line. Utah beat BYU, 63-55, earlier in the year in Provo.
LOBOS INVADE THE HUNTSMAN WEDNESDAY - New Mexico will enter one of the toughest arena's in the conference Wednesday to face league leader Utah. The Utes are 12-2 inside the Huntsman Center this year and in its 39 years of existence have an overall record of 372-50.
LOBOS GET SPARK AGAINST CSU - New Mexico got a much needed spark Saturday in a 78-56 victory over Colorado State inside The Pit. The Lobos improved to 19-8 overall and 8-6 in league play. UNM had four player score in double figures for just the seventh time this season. Junior Amy Beggin led the way with 14 points while freshman Lauren Taylor had a career-high 13 points. Senior Angela Hartill and junior Valerie Kast each had 10 points. The victory snapped a two-game skid for the Lobos and gave UNM sole possession of fourth place in the league standings.
TAYLOR HITS CAREER HIGH - Lobo freshman Lauren Taylor chipped in a career-high 13 points Saturday against CSU. Taylor nailed two three-pointers in the contest and connected on a three-point play late in the second. Taylor drove across the lane getting fouled and hitting the basket. She hit the free three and completed the three-point play. Taylor was 4-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 at the free throw line. Taylor reached double figures for the third time this season and the first since Dec. 4 against New Mexico State when she scored 11.
ALL-CONFERENCE NOMINATIONS - Junior Amy Beggin has led New Mexico this season and should be a lock as an All-MWC selection. Beggin is fourth in the league in scoring (15.2), third in assists (4.0), second in free throws (89.3), sixth in steals (2.0), fourth in three-pointers made (59) and first in assist/turnover ratio (1.85).
Senior Angela Hartill should be given consideration after averaging 11.4 points per game this season and ranks 14th in the MWC in scoring. Hartill is 10th in field goal percentage (44.0), seventh in free throw percentage (80.9) and 14th in blocks with 17.
HEAD COACHING OUTLOOK - Wednesday will feature two legendary coaches battle for position in the MWC standings. Elaine Elliott is in her 26th year at Utah and has led the Utes to the NCAA Tournament 14 times. Utah has reached the postseason the last four years. Elliott is 30-16 all-time against New Mexico. Flanagan is 13-17 against Utah.
LAST TIME AGAINST THE UTES - Utah rallied from a five-point deficit to defeat New Mexico, 53-50, inside The Pit. The Lobos led for 39 minutes but it was the Utes defense and long range shooting ability that won the game. Utah senior Morgan Warburton hit a running three-pointer with :06 seconds remaining to clinch the victory. The final minute was the Warburton and Whipple show. The comeback started when Lobo senior Amanda Adamson turned the ball over on a Warburton steal that led to a Whipple three pointer to tie the game at 50-50. Moments later Whipple blocked a shot that led to the Warburton game-winner.
UNM was led by senior Angela Hartill's 13 points while junior Amy Beggin had 11. Those were the only two Lobos to reach double figures in the contest. UNM held the Utah bench scoreless but couldn't close out the final minute.
The heartbreaking loss sent UNM into a funk and could have been a factor in back-to-back road losses at Wyoming and UNLV.
LOBOS TOUGH AT HOME - New Mexico is 15-2 inside The Pit this season and have proved to be tough inside the friendly confines. UNM's last victory inside The Pit was Saturday against CSU, 78-56. The Lobos close out the regular-season Saturday at home against Wyoming starting at 2 p.m.
KEY BATTLES ON HARDWOOD SET FOR WEDNESDAY - New Mexico and Utah will play a critical Mountain West Conference game Wednesday. The Lobos enter the game in fourth place while the Utes lead the league. With two games remaining, here is a breakdown of what is left on the schedule for the top five teams.
1. Utah (12-2) - New Mexico, at TCU
2. San Diego State (11-3) - at Colorado State, at UNLV
3. TCU (11-4) - idle, Utah
4. New Mexico (8-6) - Colorado State, at Utah, Wyoming
T5. BYU (7-7) - Wyoming, at Air Force
T5. Wyoming (7-7) - at BYU, at New Mexico
BENCH SCORING - The UNM bench has outscored the opponents in 17 of the 27 games this season including nine of 14 conference games. The Lobos held Utah to zero bench points the previous meeting in Albuquerque. UNM's bench outscored the Utes, 11-0.
NATIONAL RANKINGS - Junior Amy Beggin is currently 7th nationally in free throw percentage (89.3). UNM ranks 25th as a team (75.0).
Beggin ranks 29th nationally in Assist/Turnover ratio (1.85).
New Mexico ranks 10th in field goal percentage defense. The Lobos are allowing teams to only shoot 34.5 percent. UNM is 28th in scoring defense and 40th in scoring margin.
UNM is 25th nationally in free throw percentage. The Lobos are hitting 75.0 percent of their free throws. New Mexico is 25th in Assist/Turnover radio (0.97)