ITALY DAY 6
PESARO, Italy – Halfway through its Tour of Italy, the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team is finding out that the organizers don’t believe in air-conditioned gymnasiums.
On Saturday night, junior Brea Mitchell figured she might as well translate being hot into her game. The junior scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Lobos to a 70-54 victory over the Adriatic Sea Sirens.
UNM, now 2-0 on its exhibition tour, took advantage of its deeper bench to pull away from the Pesaro team that posed a much bigger threat than AS Vicenza on Thursday.
“We played well,” head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. “We got out to a much quicker start (than on Thursday), and our starters did a great job. We put different combinations in, and our big lead dissipated, which isn’t surprising with the combinations we were playing. But overall, I was really pleased.”
The entire Lobo team started out on fire, racing to a 15-4 lead but couldn’t sustain the early momentum. The Sea Sirens cut the lead to 22-15 at the end of the first quarter (FIBA rules use four 10-minute quarters). The home team then got hot from beyond the 3-point arc to rally for a 29-27 lead.
That’s when Mitchell also found her outside stroke. She scored the Lobos’ next eight points, including a pair of 3s, and helped UNM reclaim a 36-32 lead at halftime.
Mitchell came out with another 3-pointer to start the third quarter, and the Lobos never looked back – growing the lead to as many as 18 points.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, looking for my shot,” Mitchell said. “My confidence is up. I’ve been working hard with my shot back home and (tonight) it paid off.”
Senior Antiesha Brown added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Khadijah Shumpert contributed nine points and eight rebounds as the Lobos had a sharper game overall than they did on Thursday after not touching a basketball in five days.
“The team we played was better. Our kids played hard and played smart. They encouraged each other. They took the lead and never gave it away.”
Neither gym in which the Lobos have participated has had any kind of air conditioning, which added to the suspense of how the team would play.
The UNM traveling party left Venice at 8:30 a.m., took speed boats back to the highway to Pesaro, which took about 4 ½-hours to cover. Surprisingly, the Lobos encountered a Saturday traffic jam, which slowed the travel.
Also, the delay kicked in a law in Italy stating that any driver getting paid to transport patrons for more than a certain time period must take a certain amount of rest time. The Lobos had to wait at a convenience super store by the highway for a half-hour.
The team still has yet to get used to the dining process in Italy. For lunch, the team was served a vegetarian pasta, followed by a meat pasta. Then, skewers of meat and vegetables were served with more vegetables on the side.
After they were finished, most of the team left to walk back to the hotel, but the restaurant was bringing out even more chicken and beef dishes as second and third main courses.
As it turned out, the team sweat most of their lunch away during pregame warmups in the heat of the gym.