Photo by R.Stevens
Photo by R.Stevens
Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Look For Win Vs. Spartans
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/31/2014

New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – On The Mountain West Road.

When/Who: 3 p.m. (MT), Saturday; New Mexico (7-12, 2-6 MW) at San Jose State (8-12, 2-7)

Where: De Anza Community College/ PE Quad – Cupertino, Calif.

On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend; No Live Streaming

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

In a way, the Lobos are approaching a 10-step program, a 10-step ladder toward improvement and toward the all-important Mountain West Tournament.

But the next step is the first one and a huge one.  San Jose State can be a leg up in the direction Coach Yvonne Sanchez wants her Lobos to go. Or, the Spartans could be another banana peel.

"We need a win,” said Sanchez. “It doesn’t really matter if it’s a home win or a road win, but we are on the road so that’s where it needs to be. We have ten games to get better before the conference tournament, but right now we are looking only at the next game.”

Said UNM’s Bryce Owens: “We need to figure things out before the conference tournament.”

The key to any Lobo success in the MW Tournament in Vegas is using the next ten games to get better, but it all starts with the next game -- a road game on what has to go down as a semi neutral site.

The next game promises to produce a high-tempo pace. San Jose State averages 77.9 points per game and likes the up-beat tempo.  UNM played at that pace in The Pit.

But will the Lobos play at that pace at De Anza College in Cupertino, California?

Do the Lobos know the way to San Jose?  Well, it doesn't really matter. The Lobos/Spartans game was moved because the Spartans rented out their gym for a “Fresh Beat Band” concert.  

The Lobos and the Spartans will be looking for a fresh beat about 15 minutes to the West. Cupertino, one of America's wealthiest cities, is the home of Apple Inc’s corporate headquarters. You go another 35 minutes and you hit an ocean. The teams will be playing in the PE Quad.  It’s right next to the college pool.

The Lobos ride an unpleasant five-game losing streak into Cupertino.  The Spartans are on a three-game losing streak and hungry to snap out of that funk. The Lobos have yet to win a true road game in 2013-14 and a season sweep of the Spartans would end both skids.  Well, if you consider Cupertino to be true home game for San Jose State.

“We are not panicking and we’re not down,” said Sanchez. “We are staying positive and trying to improve, but there is no doubt we need a win.”

Sanchez’s Lobos beat the Spartans 80-68 in The Pit behind 23 points and 14 boards from Sara Halasz,19 points from Antiesha Brown and 10 points and 10 boards from Kianna Keller. UNM shot 44.3 percent from the floor and won the board battle by a crushing 51-to-34 count. The Spartans obviously need to cut into that board margin and play better defense.

But Sanchez’s expects the Spartans to run – and gun.  They threw up a Mountain West record 42 3-pointers at San Diego State. The Spartans launched only 14 bombs in The Pit.

“They are still a mile a minute and they still like to shoot the three,” said Sanchez. “They put their heads down and go at you as hard as they can.  You need some help defense with them, but you have to watch them outside, too.”

The Spartans have some talent with four players averaging 9.5 points or better: TaRea Cunnigan (19.1), Rebecca Woodberry (13.9), Classye James (12.1) and Riana Byrd (9.5).  Byrd also hauls down 9.9 boards a game and Woodberry has a 7.3 board average.  The 5-7 Britta Hall averages 3.6 assists which is the top assist mark for MW freshmen.

Cunnigan is the No. 2 scorer in the MW and Woodberry is No. 1 in 3-pointers made.

Sanchez says she is pushing her Lobos to improve and find their peak toward the season’s end.

“You have to let players play through mistakes, but it can’t be the same mistake over and over,” said Sanchez. “If they keep carrying over the same mistakes, then maybe it’s time to let someone else give it a try. We need to get better.”

The Spartans need to get better, too – especially on defense.  A lot of the San Jose stats are give and take. They are No. 2 in the MW in rebounding offense, but last in rebounding defense (50.5 a game).  They score a lot, but give up more.  They average 8.3 steals per game, but turn it over 17 times a game.

Their field goal defense is at .426, which is No. 10 in the league, but only a notch below UNM’s .421 percent yield. The stats from the first encounter suggest that this will be a tight contest.

 “They are gunning for us,” UNM’s Halasz said of the Spartans.We’re just trying to get back on track. That’s where your competitive spirit comes in. We have to be more competitive, wanting it more.”

New Mexico Lobos 2013-14 Season Roster 

No. Sort by Number
Name Sort by Name
Pos. Sort by Position
Ht. Sort by Height
Yr. Sort by Eligibility Year
Exp. Sort by Years Experience
Hometown (Prev School)
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)