New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – At Miami Hurricanes Holiday Tournament – Coral Gables, Fla.
Saturday: 1 p.m. (MT), New Mexico vs. Western Carolina; 11 a.m. (MT) Miami vs. Morgan State
Sunday: 11 a.m., Consolation Game; 1 p.m., Championship Game
On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Full Box
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.co
Let’s get this out of the way first: A Catamount is some kind of wild cat. The question for New Mexico Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez is which Catamounts will her Lobo see the most of Saturday in round one of the Miami Hurricanes’ Holiday Tournament?
Miami’s Holiday Tournament opens with the Hurricanes playing Morgan State (1 p.m. ET) followed by the New Mexico Lobos playing the Western Carolina Catamounts. The site is the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla. Make that “warm” Coral Gables, Fla. The high Saturday should be around 78 degrees.
Coral Gables is a cool place to get warm in December. It’s a hop and a jump South of Miami. There is a nice ocean to the East. The Bahamas aren’t too far away. Sanchez will show her Lobos a gym.
“A lot of our kids have never been to Miami,” said Coach Sanchez. “We have to keep them focused on Western Carolina. It’s a business trip. We are out there to win.”
Holiday Tournaments – really, all tournaments – are usually set up to help the home team push its way into the championship game. It makes for a better gate.
Miami is 6-4 and expected to get past 2-7 Morgan State as long as the Hurricanes don’t let the Bears’ Tracey Carrington go wild. Carrington averages 21.8 points.
The Hurricanes are pretty good and playing at home. They are coming off a tough 75-73 loss at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are 10-1 and Miami pushed them to the buzzer. The Hurricanes are quick and athletic and capable of tossing out a mean defense. They did not allow ASU a single field goal in the final 6:41 of that road loss, but Miami could not climb out of an 11-point hole.
For sure, the Hurricanes are expecting to win their Holiday Tournament. The Lobos have other ideas as does Morgan State and the Catamounts.
The Hurricanes have a go-to player in Caprice Dennis with a 15.7 average. Western Carolina really doesn’t have a go-to player, but they have several players capable of claiming that role on a given night.
Here’s a little insight into Sanchez’s problem with Western Carolina’s lineup. In one of the Catamounts’ six wins, they had five players off the bench play a total of 104 minutes while the five starters played 83 minutes.
To simplify: the Catamounts play a whole lot of Catamounts with ten players getting at least one start in their 10 games with no Catamount starting in all ten games. Western Carolina has 11 players averaging in double-digit minutes.
So, depth is either a strength or Western Carolina Coach Karen Middleton is still trying to find a few players to step up on a consistent level.
Lindsay Simpson has stepped up with the best numbers in the scoring column in her seven starts. She paces the Catamounts with a 10.8 average. However, the 5-foot-7 guard has not hit double figures in the past four games and scored two in the loss at North Carolina Central.
Rena Wakama, a 5-7 senior guard, hit 21 at NCC, but scored seven points in the two games previous to that road loss. Justin Taylor, a 5-8 guard, scored 17 at NCC, but did not reach double figures in the previous three games.
Shauna Terry has the most starts with nine and averages 6.3 points and 5.2 boards. The 6-foot-2 forward had nine points and no boards vs. North Carolina Central. She has had only 16 boards in Western Carolina’s past five games.
No doubt Catamount coach Middleton is looking for some consistency. She does have a lot of bodies to throw at the Lobos, but not a whole lot of height with one player listed at 6-3 (Brianne Mack) and three listed at 6-2.
The Catamounts seem to win by committee and had rolled out six consecutive wins prior to the Dec. 19 73-69 loss at North Carolina Central. The Catamounts toughest game so far was at Georgia Tech where the Catamounts were skinned 87-47. UNM is coming off a 75-41 loss at No. 4 Stanford and the Lobos have played a tougher schedule.
The Catamounts had three players in double figures vs. NC Central, but had no players in double figures in the two wins prior to that loss. A key stat in those two wins was Western Carolina holding the two opponents to under 35 percent shooting.
This is a tough team to figure out and maybe there is no Catamount to key on. Western Carolina shoots .376 from the floor and .298 from 3-point range.
The Catamounts know which Lobo can burn you. The smooth Antiesha Brown is averaging 14.7 points shooting .434 from the floor and .354 from 3-point range. Of the healthy Lobos playing double-digit minutes, she tops the Lobos in shooting percentage in both categories.
Senior Sara Halasz averages 10.4 points and Khadijah Shumpert averages 9.1` points and 5.6 boards. UNM’s Deeva Vaughn (concussion symptoms) is still a question mark for reaching the court.
Western Carolina went 7-23 a year ago and returns four starters and 11 letterwinners off that team. The Catamounts play in the Southern Conference.
“They have won six of their last seven,” said Sanchez of the Catamounts. “It’s an exciting challenge for our team. This is longest trip we’ve taken in some time."
New Mexico Lobos 2013-14 Roster