Dec. 3, 2008
What: Lobos vs. New Mexico State
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight - Dec. 4
Where: The Pit
On The Air: Mountain West Sports (TV); 610-AM KNML
Online: GameTracker; Live Broadcast Via All Access on GoLobos.com
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
A fierce battle within a fierce battle is usually a Pit-pleasing thing. And that's exactly what's on tap in The Pit tonight when New Mexico Lobos and New Mexico State Aggies resume their Rio Grande Rivalry wars.
You have Lobos vs. Aggies. What else needs to be said there? Roll out a basketball and take cover!
You also have Lobo Amy Beggin vs. Aggie Madison Spence which is a battle between two competitive warriors, who both realize they have to do a whole lot of good things in order for their team to win.
They have to lead. They have to score. They have to defend.
And although Lobo coach Don Flanagan and NMSU coach Darin Spence, father of Madison, might toss various defenders on the other team's core player, it's likely that Beggin and Spence will be going eye-to-eye more than a few times. Which should be a fun thing to see.
"I'm going to have my hands full guarding her," said Beggin. "She's a great player. It's going to be a tough battle."
Spence might have the edge over Beggin in pure scoring ability, but Beggin's fiery competitive nature time and time again raises her to levels above her basic basketball talent. Beggin knows how to win. Beggin knows how to fight. And Flanagan knows exactly who to sic her on: Madison Spence.
"She's a player who can get 30," said Flanagan. "There are not a lot of players out there who will get 30, but she's capable of it. We have to know where she's at."
Likely, Spence pretty much will be where the ball is. The Aggies run an offense designed to get Spence (17 points per game) and Danisha Corbett (14.2) a lot of touches. They combine to average 31.2 points. The other three Aggie starters average 16.2 points.
Spence has been hot, of late. She is averaging 21.7 points over the past three games, shooting 55.9 percent from the floor.
"They run a lot of things for her," said Flanagan. "If you ignore her, she could get 30 on you. I don't think we're going to ignore her. She's a player you have to be conscious of."
Beggin is a player opposing teams need to be conscious of, too, especially down the stretch when a game is on the line. Beggin has the ability to go to another level of competitiveness when it comes to crunch time.
She averages 15.6 points followed by 6-3 center Angela Hartill at 12.7 and 6-foot wing Amanda Adamson at 10.1. The Lobos had won 22 straight games over NMSU until losing to the Aggies in Las Cruces last season. UNM has won 12 straight in The Pit.
"We know how much our fans like to see us beat the Aggies," said Adamson. "We really want to do it for them because they mean so much to our program. They are such a huge, huge aspect of our program. Our fans are loyal, special. That should be motivation for us."
Coach Flanagan is impressed that the Aggies have shot 152 free throws in six games. "They know how to get to the line," he said. So do the Lobos, who have shot 153 free throws in seven games. This indicates that both teams are aggressive in attacking the basket and both teams know how to use the line to score points.
The Aggies have scored 113 points at the line, shooting 74.3 percent as a team and shooting 83 percent at the line over the past two games. UNM has scored 120 points at the line, shooting 78.4 percent as a team. Beggin is 33-of-35 from the stripe and Hartill is 19-of-20.
"It's going to be a tough game," said Flanagan. "They (Aggies) are going to be competitive. They are going to be motivated. They are going to play hard. They believe they can win. We believe we can win."
Editor's note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous articles are available at The Richard Stevens Corner