Stevens: Lobos vs. Wyoming -- Will First Team To 60 Win?
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/13/2012
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 13, 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 in The Pit can be purchased for $2.

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Saturday: 2 p.m., Wyoming at New Mexico
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

One of the fundamental rules for staying alive in the Mountain West basketball race - "protect your home floor" -- hits Yvonne Sanchez's Lobos on the chin Saturday when the struggling Wyoming Cowgirls come for a 2 p.m., tip.

That rule has even more urgency when a lower-tier team steps onto your court.

It might be too early in the Mountain race to designate a spot on the MW ladder for the Cowgirls, but when you are 4-10 (0-1 MWC) and coming off a league loss on your home court, you have much to prove -- and only one way to move on the ladder.

The Lobos are out to prove something, too. They are coming off a 65-46 beating at Boise State - a game in which the Lobos did not do a good job protecting the ball or protecting the paint.

Sanchez says although the Cowgirls have been struggling on the scoreboard, she knows exactly what to expect on the court: a Wyoming team that plays hard, plays physical and doesn't back down on defense.

"They are a Joe Legerski-coached team and Joe Legerski-coached teams are well coached, fundamental and they can beat any team at any time," said Sanchez. "They are physical. They'll set a million screens. They are good shooters. And they love to play defense."

The Cowgirls are coming off a 54-51 loss in Laramie to a 13-4 UNLV team that expects to battle for the 2012 Mountain title. The Cowgirls didn't find a happy ending on the scoreboard, but this young Wyoming team hung around. Wyoming trailed 47-46 and 51-50 before UNLV pulled out the 54-51 win.

"We're growing as a group," said Legerski. "We just have to learn how to finish. We're trying to get them to grow up quicker."

Wyoming lost four senior starters from last year and was planning to structure a team around the athleticism and height of 6-foot-6 freshman Fatima Thiam. Those plans ended when Thiam was lost to a preseason ACL tear.

That loss forced Wyoming to go to more of a two-forward attack, but the Wyoming forwards are solid: 6-1 junior Ashley Sickles, who leads the team with 12.6 points followed by 6-1 Chaundra Sewell at 12.5 points per game.

The Boise State Broncos had good success attacking UNM inside and the Cowgirls' strength on offense is Sickles and Sewell inside.

Wyoming gets decent support in the scoring from 5-11 Kayla Woodward at 9.3 and 5-10 Kaitlyn Mileto at 9.9 points per game. Woodward had a career-high 21 points in Wyoming's loss to UNLV. Wyoming has two sophomores and six freshmen on its 10-player roster of active Cowgirls. There are no Cowgirl seniors.

"They're just young," said UNM's Sanchez. "But they are well coached and they'll be ready."

The tempo of Saturday's game probably won't be an issue. But will either team crack the 60-point mark? The Lobos are last in the Mountain in scoring with a 54.9 average. Wyoming is a notch above UNM at 56.0. UNM gives up 54.8 points a game and Wyoming yields 61.6.

Wyoming is more of a half-court team on both ends of the court. The Cowgirls' defense - and the Cowgirls' offense - improves the closer the ball gets to the basket.

The Lobos should do better than the 23 turnovers they had at Boise State. Wyoming also is vulnerable to the 3-point basket and is ranked last in the conference in 3-point percentage defense (.324 percent).

The Lobos' 3-point shooting should be a factor. UNM is No. 1 in the Mountain in 3-point shooting with a 36.5 percent rate and Caroline Durbin is the top individual at 53.1 percent.

Durbin continues to pace UNM on the scoring charts with her 14.6 average (No. 4 in the MW). Porche Torrance is No. 2 for the Lobos with a 10.8 average.

Coach Yvonne Sanchez


Probable StartersHTPositionSeason Statistics
12 - Nikki Nelson5-5Guard5.2 Pts. - 2.6 Asts.
35 - Chinyere Nnaji6-0Post1.8 Pts. - 3.6 Rebs.
24 - Caroline Durbin6-0Guard14.6 Pts. - 4.3 Rebs.
23 - Porche Torrance6-1Wing10.8 Pts. - 9.1 Rebs.
21 - Jayme Jackson5-7Guard6.1 Pts. - 1.7 Asts..

The NM BenchHTPositionSeason Statistics
11 - Lauren Taylor6-0Guard6.6 Pts. - 1.3 Rebs.
45 - Jourdan Erskine6-2Wing5.8 Pts. - 7.1 Rebs.
43 - Emily Stark6-5Post1.0 Pts. - 1.1 Rebs.
44 - Deeva Vaughn6-0Wing6.2 Pts. - 4.3 Rebs.
33 - Maddie Muraida6-2Post0.5 Pts. - 1.0 Rebs.
25 - Ashley Rhoades6-2Post0.6 Pts. - 1.2 Rebs.
41 - Jaime Parker5-9Wing1.1 Pts. -- 0.6 Rebs.

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..