New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – In The Pit
When/Who: 2 p.m. (MT), Saturday – San Jose State (6-8, 0-3) at New Mexico (6-7, 1-1)
On The Air: 610-AM with Joe Behrend and Nikki Heckroth-Lobato. (Pit’s frequency: 89.5 FM)
GoLobos.com: Game Story, LoboTV, Stats, Quotes
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The San Jose State Spartans do not have the need for speed. They have the legs. The Spartans don’t really seek more when it comes to score. They have the guns.
But San Jose State needs to do some mending when it comes to defending. They have a few leaks.
“They are unique. You don’t’ see that much anymore,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez of SJSU’s all-out run-and-gun style.
The Spartans’ problem is obvious enough. Against the better teams, they don’t score as well and are a bit leaky on defense. They are last in the MW in field goal defense at 37.4 percent and next to last in the nation yielding 91.1 points a game.
This season, in five of their eight losses, the Spartans have given up 105, 113, 103, 101 and 101 points. They are coming off a 101-60 loss at Colorado State. The Rams scored 62 on UNM.
There is a good chance that Lobo fans will be eating free tacos later on Saturday. But does that mean the 6-7 Lobos can beat the Spartans?
“San Jose State is a dangerous team,” said Sanchez. “They put it up. They shoot a lot of threes. They crash the boards. They score a lot of points and so do their opponents.
“San Jose State just lights it up and they have shooters who can light it up from the three. They’ll take 30-plus threes a game and it doesn’t matter if they make or miss. They are going to take those shots. They score in bunches and they are a tough group to guard.”
The Lobos proved against Wyoming that they also can be a tough group to guard. UNM has to be feeling good about its offense coming off the 75-65 Mountain West win over Wyoming. The Lobos had a season high in points and field goal percentage. The Lobos were a raging offensive machine.
This is what the Spartans can be, too. They have scored 104, 100, 97, and 98 points in wins. The Spartans average 80.5 points on offense.
“They play hard and they play well together,” said Sanchez.
The points San Jose State puts on the board obviously comes from some hot hands. The Spartans have four players in the MW’s Top 16: TaRea Cuningan (17.9), Rebecca Woodberry (14.0), Classye James (13.1) and Jasmine Smith (`12.6). Riana Byrd and Jasmine Smith average 8.9 boards and Woodberry averages 7.3 boards.
Of course, there are a lot of balls bouncing around when San Jose State steps into a gym. They have taken more shots (1,037) and more 3-pointers (365) than any other Mountain West team. UNM has shot 186 3-pointers and has taken 788 shots. The Spartans also have allowed 1,127 shots. They take and they give.
The Spartans don’t exactly play in-your-face defense, but part of the problem there is depth. SJSU lists only nine players in its stats. They average 14.0 minutes to a team-high 31.5 by Woodberry. They do not want to shorten their bench via foul trouble.
Colorado State had only 11 turnovers in scoring 101 points. The Rams got off 82 shots, but shot only 14 free throws. CSU out rebounded San Jose State 60-to-49. Nevada shot 86 times in its 101-74 win over SJSU.
The Spartans’ style makes for a crowd-pleaser. They go, go, go.
Sanchez got a treat Wednesday night against Wyoming when her offense played at the same high level as her defense, which has been solid all year. San Jose State might be looking for the same dual-threat night.
For sure, the Spartans don’t want the Lobos to set up in their half-court defense. UNM’s strength on defense is discipline, technique and positioning, which often flows better in a half-court set. The Spartans want to run and gun: attack a UNM defense when it is fragmented in transition.
The Lobos had five players in double figures against a Wyoming team that went into the game with the top field goal percentage defense in the Mountain. The Lobos shot 51.8 percent vs. the Cowgirls.
The tempo on Saturday could be a key. UNM will run, because San Jose State allows teams to run. But the Lobos also have to avoid just going bucket for bucket.
Well, unless the Lobos are shooting at the same clip they did against Wyoming.