Bryce Owens
Bryce Owens
Stevens: Lobos Looks For Elusive Win at Texas Tech
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/12/2013

New Mexico Lobos (1-0) at Texas Tech (1-0)

When/Where: 5:30 p.m. (MT), Wednesday – United Spirit Arena

On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend

GoLobos.com: Game Story, Statistics, (Live Stats at (www.TexasTech.com)

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com.

The New Mexico connection between Lobos and Texas Tech Red Raiders is a strong one.  It’s a recruiting thing as the two programs often battle for Land of Enchantment and Texas talent.

On Wednesday, it mostly will be a basketball game.  Mostly.

“It’s going to be an emotional game for me,” said Lobo Ebony Walker, who left Albuquerque’s Sandia High two years ago picking Tech over The Pit.  “I would love to win this game.”

UNM’s Antiesha Brown is another New Mexico product, who ventured into Lubbock only to realize that The Pit was a better home for her.  She picked Tech over UNM in 2010 out of Clovis High, but transferred to New Mexico after her freshman year.

There is really no animosity, no revenge factor, no hard feelings toward Tech from either Brown or Walker.

“I got avenged last year,” said Walker of UNM’s 65-61 Pit win over the Raiders. “We won here and those players I knew.  It was the feel-good win I was looking for, but this year it’s just another game.  They have a new staff and I know maybe three of their players.

“I look at it more as going to an arena I used to play in. I’m used to the setting.”

Said Walker: “I was treated really well at Texas Tech.  It just wasn’t a good fit and I felt I would be happier at New Mexico. I have no hard feeling toward Tech, but sometimes it’s just the best thing to leave.

“For me, I’m mostly looking forward to this game because they are going to get me ready for other games.  I’ll be playing against Amber Battle and Shauntal Nobles and they are great players.  Shauntal is a great post player and she’ll help me get better for other great teams and players.

There is a dash of irony that one of Tech’s stars this year is Battle – an Albuquerque Cibola High product, who was chased hard by UNM.  Battle had 21 points and 11 rebounds in Tech’s 70-48 season-opening win over Texas Pan American.  Nobles also had a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards.

The Lobos obviously will be focusing on Nobles and Battle.  The Red Raiders have to be worried about the two former Red Raiders.

Brown had 28 points and 11 boards in UNM’s 65-61 win over Loyola Marymount.  The 6-foot-2 Walker powered for 13 points and six boards and keyed a late UNM charge that produced the come-from-behind win.”

There are a lot of similarities between Brown and Battle – and Walker and Nobles.  Brown and Battle are deadly slashers. They drive hard and know how to finish. They also can hit short jumpers.  They are more effective the closer they get to the rim.

““We are going to make (Battle) beat us from the outside,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. “If she hits threes, then bless her.”

Nobles and UNM’s Walker are more power players. Nobles is a 6-3 senior, who runs the court well. She did not play in Tech’s loss last year in The Pit due to illness. Walker is 6-2 and might be a better physical match with Noble in the half-court game.  UNM will start 6-0 Khadijah Shumpert.

The problem with getting Tech into the half-court game is that Tech is going to resist that pace.  They like to run. The Red Raiders ran the Lobos out of the United Spirit Arena two years ago 69-43.  The Lobos had 30 turnovers in that game spoiling Sanchez’s debut as UNM’s head coach. Tech won 80-53 in The Pit in 2010.

The Lobos obviously have narrowed the gap between the Red Raiders, but ball control will be a key in getting a win in Lubbock.

“We have to cut down our turnovers,” said Sanchez. “Tech wants to get it and go.  They play really hard.  They will pressure, deny and get up on you (defensively.). They are four out (guards) and one in (post).

“They attack. They drive. They are going to take it right at you, ram it down your throats.”

The Red Raiders look for layups and short jumpers off their dribble penetration.  They look for the backdoor pass.  They also don’t mind going to the free-throw line.  They went 28-of-34 vs. Pan American.

Tech actually lost the turnover battle to Pan American (24-to-18), but pressured Pan Am to 23.4 percent shooting.  The Red Raiders had 25 more rebounds and went 0-of-8 from long range.

Sanchez prefers to play a man-to-man defense, but found a zone effective against Loyola Marymount’s dribble penetration. The Lions could not beat the Lobos with the outside shot.  UNM obviously would prefer Tech to launch from afar.

“I think we’re going to be ready and I think the kids are excited to play Tech,” said Sanchez, who said her Lobos won’t hesitate to run on the Red Raiders.  “We’ll pick our spots to run,” she said. “We have to make sure we get good shots.”

Said Brown.  “They like to come at you. We have to slow them down, contain the drive.  They might throw a press out there.”

Tech is coached by Candi Whitaker, a former Red Raider player in her first season at the helm.  Texas Tech holds a 13-3 series edge over UNM.  The Raiders have never lost to New Mexico in Lubbock.  UNM has lost by an average of 30.2 points in their seven games in Lubbock. 

New Mexico Lobos -- 2013-14 Roster 
1   Brooke Allemand G 5-4 Fr. HS Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas (Boerne-Samuel V. Champion HS)
3   Josie Greenwood F 5-11 Fr. HS Hobart, Australia (Rosny College)
4   Alex Lapeyrolerie G 5-11 Fr. HS Highland Village, Texas (Edward S. Marcus HS)
11   Alexa Chavez F 6-0 So. 1L Santa Fe, N.M. (St. Michael's HS)
12   Bryce Owens G 5-4 So. 1L DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto HS)
13   Khadijah Shumpert F 6-0 So. 1L Minneapolis, Minn. (Benilde St. Margaret's HS)
15   Antiesha Brown G 5-10 RJr. 1L Clovis, N.M. (Texas Tech)
20   Sara Halasz G 5-11 RSr. 3L Ohatchee, Ala. (Lakes (Wash.) HS)
21   Marissa Perry G 5-4 Fr. HS Albuquerque, N.M. (Hope Christian HS)
25   Brea Mitchell G 5-10 So. 1L Plano, Texas (Plano West HS)
30   Lauren Newman F 6-1 Fr. HS El Paso, Texas (El Dorado HS)
32   Kianna Keller F 6-4 Fr. HS Waukesha, Wisc. (Waukesha West HS)
33   Maddie Muraida C 6-2 Jr. 2L Albuquerque, N.M. (Albuquerque Academy)
34   Whitney Johnson C 6-2 RSo. 1L Highland, Utah (Lone Peak HS)
42   Ebony Walker C 6-2 RJr. RS Albuquerque, N.M. (Texas Tech)
44   Deeva Vaughn F 6-0 RSr. 1L Albuquerque, N.M. (Northern Oklahoma - Enid)