March 7, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- The New Mexico women's basketball will battle Colorado State Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PST in the opening round of the 2010 Conoco Mountain West Conference Women's Basketball Championship. The No. 5 seeded Lobos (17-11, 9-7) face the Rams (13-16, 5-11) for the third time this season after splitting a pair of games during the regular-season. The MWC Championship will be held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The game will not be televised but available on 610 AM The Sports Animal. GameTracker will be available on GoLobos.com.
New Mexico has won five MWC Championships under head coach Don Flanagan. The Lobos won the tournament in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. This championship features UNM as the No. 5 seed for the first time. New Mexico has never been seeded lower than fourth since 1996 when it hosted the Western Athletic Conference Championship in The Pit.
The Lobos are 19-5 all-time when playing in the MWC Championship. New Mexico is 13-4 when the tournament has been held in Las Vegas. UNM is 4-2 when facing Colorado State in a conference championship setting and 3-1 since joining the MWC.
New Mexico has played Colorado State back-to-back years heading into this tournament and knocked the Rams out of the event both times. Last year, UNM beat CSU 62-48 in the Thomas and Mack.
The winner of the UNM-CSU battle will face the winner of the Utah-Air Force game. The No. 4 Utes will take on the No. 9 Falcons Tuesday at 2 p.m. PST. The second round game will be played at 4:30 p.m. PST on Wednesday and will be broadcast live on the MountainWest Sports Network (The mtn.).
The mtn., will not broadcast the first round of the women's championship but will have live coverage Wednesday and Friday. The championship game will be live nationally on Versus.
New Mexico leads the all-time series with Colorado State, 34-28 but split games this year. Both teams won at home. The victory for CSU in Moby Arena snapped a 13 game losing streak to the Lobos. New Mexico has won 14 of the last 15 games and is 5-1 against CSU on a neutral court.
Colorado State won the game in Fort Collins this year on Jan. 23, 67-60. The Rams outplayed New Mexico for 30 minutes and used a big shot at the end to clinch the upset victory. The Lobos trailed for the majority of the game and only played well for the final 10 minutes. UNM shot 29 percent during the game while CSU made 42.9 percent of its shots. Kim Mestdagh and Chatilla Van Grinsven both had 20 points.
New Mexico rallied to win the game inside The Pit on Feb. 24, 65-50. The Lobos had three players score in double figures. Senior Amy Beggin came off the bench to score 16 points while senior Eileen Weissmann had 14. The Lobos shot 40.8 percent from the field but the difference was at the free throw line. New Mexico hit 15-of-19 free throws while CSU only made 4-of-6 in the game. Both teams hit 10 3-pointers and Colorado State dominated the rebounding advantage, 40-27.
Kim Mestdagh is leading CSU in scoring with 16.4 points per game and ranks second in the MWC in scoring. Mestdagh is averaging 19.5 ppg in two games this year against New Mexico. She had 20 points in the game at CSU and 19 in The Pit. Chatilla Van Grinsven is second in scoring for CSU with 11.9 ppg and ranks 15th in the league. Meghan Heimstra is the team's leading rebounder with 7.9 boards per contest. CSU has lost four straight heading into the MWC Championship.
New Mexico has won three of its last four games and is coming off a bye game last Saturday. The Lobos haven't played a game since Tuesday, March 2 when they lost at TCU. Senior Amy Beggin is the team's leading scorer with 13 ppg and is an all-MWC candidate. Beggin has hit a team-high 57 3-pointers, leads UNM with 90 assists and is an 82 percent free throw shooter. The Lobos have seven players averaging over 5.8 points per game.
Senior Valerie Kast came off the bench to highlight the regular-season finale. Kast was called to action after starter Jessica Kielpinski went out with a broke nose and didn't waste a good opportunity. She chipped in a season-high 14 points and had career-highs in rebounds (8), assist (4), blocks (6) and minutes played (31). Kast hit 6-of-14 shots taken in the game against TCU.
Junior Jessica Kielpinski left the TCU game with a broken nose but is expected to be full speed for the MWC Championship. Kielpinski practiced with a face guard and will wear it during the games. During MWC action, Kielpinski is averaging 7.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.