New Mexico Lobos Women’s Mountain West Basketball – At Air Force
Tuesday: New Mexico 76, Air Force 62
Friday: 7 p.m. (MT), San Diego State at New Mexico
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Eventually, you knew it was going to happen. The Lobos were going to pound the ball inside, get the ball to Khadijah Shumpert, and pound the smaller Air Force Falcons.
And in the second half the Lobos did that at a high level. Shumpert imposed her will in the paint finishing with 19 points and eight boards to help UNM race to a 76-62 Mountain West road win. It is a win that will carry the Lobos into a Friday night – Senior Night – clash with San Diego State.
Coach Yvonne Sanchez is anticipating giving her seniors a happy farewell in The Pit.
“Now we have a big game on Friday to honor Deeva (Vaughn) and Sara (Halasz),” said Sanchez. “I told the team that these two have given me everything they’ve had and I’ve been hard on them. I don’t want any regrets. We need to honor them and send them off with a win.
“We appreciate our fans and I really want to invite them to come out on Friday.”
The Lobos will be looking for revenge on Friday as they allowed the Aztecs to pull away at the finish line for a 53-48 win in San Diego. “We didn’t play real well down there,” said Sanchez of the game at SDSU. “I’m going to look at tape and I’m going to see what I can do better.”
The task at Air Force was not as challenging. UNM was facing a team with a single win on the season and no wins in Mountain West play.
The Falcons are now 1-26 overall and 0-17 in MW play. UNM goes to 5-12 in MW play and 10-18 on the year. The Lobos are looking at a win over SDSU to take UNM into the MW Tournament on a two-game win streak.
The Lobos let the Falcons hang around for a half (32-28 UNM) before doing what every other team in the Mountain West has done – pound the ball inside and pound the Falcons. New Mexico outscored Air Force in the paint 52-to-26 and had 16 second-chance points to six for the Falcons. UNM won the board battle 41-to-22 with 17 offensive boards.
“Those young ladies did a great job,” said Sanchez of her Lobos. “We knew it was going to be tough. It’s Senior Night (at Air Force) and Air Force always plays us tough. I know how scrappy Air Force is and they didn’t disappoint tonight”
The Lobos pulled out of their four-point halftime lead to go up 56-39 at the 10:00 mark. They pushed the gap to 19 points before the Falcons cut it to 63-53 at the 5:15 mark and 67-58 with 3:17 to play – and with Shumpert on the bench with her 19 points and five fouls.
The Lobos again pulled away and a 7-0 run made it 74-58. Bryce Owens, who did not start the game, finished that run with two free throws. UNM went 18 of 24 from the line.
“I just thought I’d change things up a little bit,” Sanchez said of giving the point-guard start to Brooke Allemand. “(Owens) will start the next game. I thought she came off the bench relaxed and I needed her to play more relaxed. She still played 28 minutes."
Owens and Allemand combined for 11 assists and two turnovers. Antiesha Brown had 17 points and Deeva Vaughn had 12 points and six boards. Alexa Chavez came off the bench to score eight points and pull down seven boards.
The Lobos shot 57.7 percent in the second half and finished the game shooting 48.3 percent. Air Force shot 44.4 percent.
“I thought they might go to a zone, but they didn’t,” said Sanchez thinking Air Force might try to take away the inside with a zone. UNM outscored Air Force by 26 inside, but the Lobos had to work for inside advantage.
“Those were hard points for them (posts) because they were getting beat up inside,” said Sanchez.
The Lobos play SDSU on Friday night and then leave Albuquerque Sunday for the Mountain West Tournament. The Lobos first game in Vegas is Monday.