ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Lobos were looking to rise to the occasion when they hosted the No. 16 Colorado Buffaloes in The Pit on Saturday afternoon. Instead, Colorado overcame an early Lobo run to control the game en route to an 85-53 victory. The Buffaloes were powered by a blistering 10-18 (55.6%) shooting performance from three-point range. That shooting percentage would match their overall field goal percentage as CU shot 30-54 (55.6%) from the field for the game.
“Defensively, we just gave up way too many three’s. They had ten three-pointers. That was the game really. They’re shooting fifty-five percent from the three and fifty-five percent from the field. We couldn’t muster much,” observed Head Coach Yvonne Sanchez after the game.
The visitors’ impressive 15-26 (57.7%) first-half shooting came as the Lobos were able to contest many of their looks. However, good defense by the Lobos was beaten by better shooting by the Buffaloes.
“In the locker room (at half) we talked about “keep playing defense”, you can’t just stop playing defense. Keep getting a hand in their face and stopping the ball as much as you can,” said senior Sara Halasz.
The Lobos overcame their early season shooting woes and scored three of the game’s first four baskets en route to a respectable 11-25 (44.0%) first-half shooting performance. The shooting dipped to 34.5% on 10-29 shooting the second half as Colorado led by ten or more points for the entire half.
New Mexico had only one scorer in double figures, which came courtesy of Sara Halasz’s 16 points. It was Halasz’s best performance since overcoming back-to-back season ending knee injuries in the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 seasons. The scoring output was the most by the sixth-year senior since scoring 17 points in the 2010 WNIT against SMU nearly three seasons ago.
Antiesha Brown was limited to just nine points on nine shot attempts after only playing seven minutes in the first half due to two quick fouls.
The New Mexico head coach pointed to Colorado’s offensive efficiency as more than just a deciding factor.
“We’re relatively young, but there’s no excuse and I won’t use that as an excuse. We got beat badly. If you look at the way they run their offense, you can see that they are really clicking. They’ve been playing together for three years. For us, we need to learn from that. We need to set better screens, set people up, and be ready to shoot,” Sanchez noted.
The Lobos will get their chance to bounce back in just three days when they host the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in The Pit. It’s part of a three-game week for UNM who also hosts their annual Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday and Saturday.
FIRST HALF: Lobos-28 Colorado-42
The Lobos scored the game’s first two buckets within one minute of winning the opening tip. Antiesha Brown would first score on a jump shot off a Bryce Owens assist. Owens was the catalyst for the second basket as well after recording a steal on Colorado’s first possession. Owens set-up Sara Halasz who scored the basket plus a foul to put UNM up 4-0 in 62 seconds.
The two teams exchanged baskets for the next three minutes before Colorado tied the game on a Jasmine Sborov three-pointer with 16:12 to go until halftime. Sborov’s long-range score marked the last time New Mexico would lead in the game as Colorado went on a 20-6 run over the next eight minutes to firmly grab hold of the game.
CU used scorching-hot three-point shooting to control their lead. The Buffs shot 8-12 (66.7%) from deep while recording eleven assists on their fifteen made field goals for the half.
Coach Sanchez and the Lobos were paced by Sara Halasz’s twelve first-half points, which nearly matched her season high. The next highest scoring Lobo was Kianna Keller with just four points in the first half.