Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Open Mountain Play At Home-Tough Boise State
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/09/2012
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 9, 2012

SANCHEZ SELL OUT: The Lobos and Coach Yvonne Sanchez are shooting for a sellout game Saturday for New Mexico's 2 p.m., Mountain West home opener vs. the Wyoming Cowgirls. All bench seats can be purchased for $2.

Boise State Notes Get Acrobat Reader

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

Wednesday: 7 p.m. (MT), New Mexico Lobos (6-8) at Boise State (9-6)
On The Air: 610-AM KNML
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Stats
Saturday:2 p.m., Wyoming at New Mexico - The Pit

"Well, I'll stand my ground. No, I won't back down." - Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

You could say the Yvonne Sancheztag team called the New Mexico Lobos is limping toward their Mountain West opener at Boise State, but, really, isn't a limp simply the Lobos' natural gait?

Wouldn't these Lobos stand their ground, if they only had one leg to stand on?

"We know no other way," said Lobo senior Nikki Nelsonreferring to the team's ability to deal with the adversity that seems to haunt the Lobos like Casper's evil uncles.

"We've adapted pretty well to it," said Lobo Jayme Jackson.

The tag-team scenario that the Lobos have had to deal with this season - one Lobo out, one Lobo in - hit the team again prior to New Mexico's trip to Boise, Idaho to open Mountain West play with the Boise State Broncos on Wednesday night.

Out (again): Deeva Vaughn.
In: Emily Stark. .
Still out: Jourdan Erskine.

"The team chemistry wise has gotten so much better and I really do feel like gel is the correct word," said Nelson. "It's (illness/injury) something you have to face and you can't just say, `Uh-oh, we can't deal with this.'

"We just have to pick up and move on and our team has done a good job with that."

UNLV -- 12-4
SDSU -- 10-4
Boise - 9-6
TCU --- 7-8
Lobos - 6-8
AFA --- 5-10
Wyo --- 4-9
CSU --- 4-11

Vaughn is back on the injured-reserve list for the third time this season battling a third concussion. This one hit Saturday in practice when her head collided with Stark's chin. Vaughn will not play at Boise.

"It concerns me," said Sanchez. "I can't put that kid back on the court until I know she's OK. There are a lot more ramifications for her besides playing basketball. She has to get well and it's going to be a while before she gets back. I have to make sure she is OK before she does anything."

The loss of Vaughn is a blow because she was starting for Erskine, out with a stress fracture. Erskine might play Saturday when Wyoming invades The Pit. That takes away two solid inside players for the Lobos heading toward a Boise State team that is 7-3 in Boise and tough in the middle.

"They have three or four people in the post, who can score not only in the post, but outside the post," said Sanchez. "They are tough to beat at home."

The Broncos are a surprise team in the Mountain. They were picked to finish last in the Mountain run, but are one of only three MW teams to have posted a winning record (9-6) heading into the Mountain wars.

Based on non-conference stuff, UNLV (12-4) and San Diego State (10-4) are probably the teams to outrace. "The rest of us are just trying to claw and scratch," said Sanchez.

The Mountain West race guns to a start Wednesday with Air Force at Colorado State, UNLV at Wyoming, TCU at San Diego State and New Mexico at Boise State.

"I think they are out to prove a point, being new to the conference," said Nelson. "They looked really good on tape. They are a very crisp team."

Of course, the game is critical to the Broncos. If you expect to hang with UNLV and SDSU, you don't lose at home. For the Lobos, it's a great chance to get a breakthrough on the road. A lot of teams will lose in Boise.

"Boise State has a good inside-outside team," said Sanchez, who added that the Broncos like to mix things up on defense and confuse teams with a variety of looks, traps and full-court pressure.

The Broncos also like to run. They top the Mountain with a 72.9 scoring average that is a product of talent and tempo. The Broncos also are last in the Mountain in scoring defense at 68.2. The Lobos have the league's best defense in points allowed at 54.1, but score only 55.5 points a game.

Something has to give. Obviously, tempo is a key for both teams. "They are looking to run and that's what they do best, getting threes in transition," said Nelson. "We want to keep them right around 55 (points)."

The Broncos have one of the league's top scorers in Kati Isham, who scores at a 15.6 clip. She is joined in double figures by Lauren Lendardt at 12.1 and Nicole Brady at 10.0. Lendardt tops the MW in field goal percentage at .543 and Boise State is No. 1 in the Mountain as a team, shooting 43 percent.

Isham is a go-to player with a give-it-to-me attitude. She scored 17 of her season-high 23 points in the second half as BSU rallied to win at New Mexico State, 56-53. She scored 10 of the Broncos' final 12 points.

"She is a really good shooter in transition," said UNM's Jackson, who will be one of the Lobos asked to guard Isham. "I have to limit her touches."

The Lobos are paced by Caroline Durbin with a 14.7 average followed by senior Porche Torrance with a 10.4 average. With Vaughn and Erskine out, Chinyere Nnajishould get the start in the forward spot at Boise.

Coach Sanchez also said she expects to get more minutes out of walk-ons Jaime Parker and Ashley Rhoadesas the season wears on.

"When I put them in, it's not a deer in the headlights," said Sanchez. "I still look at the people we have and it's, `Hey, let's go win a game with these guys.' I think we are pretty confident."

STAFF APPRECIATION DAY:The Staff Council has teamed with the UNM Athletic Department to hold "Staff Appreciation Day" at The Pit on Saturday, Jan. 14 when the Lobo women open Mountain West play against Wyoming. Game time is 2 p.m.UNM Staff, with a valid Lobo ID Card, can purchase unlimited tickets for $7 per ticket. The $7 includes a ticket to the game (bench seating only) and a $5 coupon for a hot dog, chips and a small fountain drink.Tickets can be purchased at The Pit Ticket Office, which is located at the northeast corner of The Pit and is open Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. UNM staff members also can purchase tickets at the UNM Main Campus Bookstore Ticket Office now through Thursday, 1/12/12. The Bookstore Ticket Office is open Tuesday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Let's show our Lobo spirit and pack The Pit for the Lobo Women's basketball game!