March 14, 2008
The seniors stepped up today. Dionne Marsh scored 19 points and Brandi Kimble added 13 points and a team-high 9 rebounds as New Mexico ripped Colorado State 65-41 in the semifinals of the 2008 Phillips 66 Mountain West Conference Championship at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
New Mexico, the No. 4 seed, improves to 19-12 and takes a five-game winning streak into Saturday's championship game against No. 6 seed San Diego State. The Aztecs advanced with a narrow 69-67 win over TCU in the other semifinal. UNM swept the season series from SDSU, winning 60-47 at San Diego and 63-54 in The Pit on Feb. 13.
Colorado State, a surprise winner over Utah in the quarterfinals, ends its season at 5-27.
Saturday's championship tips at 2 p.m. Mountain Time and will be televised live by VERSUS (Channel 37 on Comcast Cable in Albuquerque).
The Lobos will be seeking their fifth MWC tournament championship in the past six seasons as they look to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year.
The University of New Mexico is hosting the first and second rounds of this year's NCAA Championship March 22 and 24 at The Pit.
Today, two early scoring bursts - 11-0 and 15-0 - provided the Lobos with a 33-12 halftime cushion. The 12 points are the fewest UNM has allowed in any half this season.
The Rams cut the deficit to 10 points on two occasions in the second half - the last time at 40-30 - but UNM eventually pulled away for its 14th win in its last 15 conference tournament games.
After missing their first six shots from the floor to start the game, the Lobos connected on 11 of their last 18 attempts in the first half, six of those from beyond the arc. The Lobos only shot 38% (20-53) for the afternoon, but drilled 9 of 24 attempts from 3-point.
Kimble had three of the treys with two of those coming in the decisive first half. She also had 3 assists and a block with no turnovers in 36 minutes.
Marsh was 5 of 12 from the floor, but as is customary, she got to the foul line 10 times, converting 8. She also had 3 blocks.
Sophomore Georonika Jackson gave the Lobos a lift off the bench in the first half. She came into the game averaging less than 3 points and 1 rebound a game, but had 5 points and a career-high 5 rebounds before halftime.
Junior Amanda Adamson was also a spark in reserve. CSU pared the margin to 10 points midway through the second half, but Adamson knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner that swung momentum back in the Lobos' favor. She finished with 9 points, 2 offensive rebounds and 2 assists in 16 productive minutes.
UNM held the Rams to 34% (18-53) shooting from the field. CSU did have a 39-32 edge on the boards, but the Lobos forced 21 turnovers while committing just 10, which ties for the second-lowest total this season.
New Mexico has now won 40 straight games over the past two seasons when reaching 60 points.