Stevens: Seniors Seek Happy Ending on Senior Night
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  03/06/2014

New Mexico Lobos Women’s Mountain West Basketball – In The Pit

Friday: 7 p.m. (MT) San Diego State (12-15, 9-8 MW) at New Mexico (10-18, 5-12 MW)

On The Air: 610-AM KNML; Mountain West Network Live Stream

GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete Stats, Game Notes, LoboTV

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

To understand what playing basketball in The Pit means to Sara Halasz, maybe you have to look at her scars.

Maybe you have to go back to the times that Halasz went to the floor in pain, felt something rip apart in her knee, and didn’t bounce right up.

Maybe need to remember that she went down hard in the fall of 2010 and down hard again in the fall of 2011.  Her knee was torn and damaged the first time and torn and damaged again. 

Halasz probably should have said goodbye to The Pit two seasons ago. Probably most of us would have.  Probably it was the wise thing to do.

It’s a difficult thing to rehab a knee. It’s time and pain and hard work. It’s more difficult the second time.  Then, it’s psychological as well as physical.

Will my knee hold up?  Do I really want to take the chance?

Halasz took the chance and instead of saying goodbye to The Pit in February of 2012, she says goodbye Friday night on Senior Night when the San Diego State Aztecs invade The Pit.

 The Lobos will be honoring Sara Halasz and Deeva Vaughn while trying to gain momentum for Monday’s first-round in the Mountain West Tournament.

“It’s my third senior year and I actually get to talk,” said Halasz, who took medical redshirt seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and is in her sixth season with the Lobos.  “The day had to come. Just have to take it. It’s going to be emotional, but we are going to go all out, give our hearts.  

“It’s a night to remember.”

Said Vaughn, who also took a medical redshirt season in 2011-12: “It (senior season) already hit me the first game, even during preseason. Now, it’s just here and it’s just like, ‘wow, blink of an eye.’   It’s crazy. It’s been a long journey.

“It’s going to be emotional. I know that.  I’m an emotional wreck.  I’m going to try to hold the tears. I love my team and coaches and it’s hard to have to say goodbye to the fans here as well.  I’m kind of emotional right now just thinking about it.  This is the last time going down the ramp and I’m going to make the most of it.”

Said Coach Yvonne Sanchez: “These two seniors really appreciate what the fans have meant to them. And I know the fans appreciate what Sara and Deeva have meant to them and this program. It’s hard saying goodbye to people who have given everything they have in their time here.”

 The Senior Night thing is always an emotional touch, but the Lobos also are Lobos to win basketball games.  They have lost 11 of 14 and five of six in The Pit and are looking for a win over San Diego State to build some momentum for the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas.

UNM will play a Monday game in Vegas against either UNLV or Utah State.

“We have to come out strong. We have to come out aggressive and attack and don’t back down,” said Halasz.

Said Coach Sanchez: “I don’t want to emphasize that, 'we have to win, we have to win, we have to win.' It’s a tough game, it’s a tough team. But I don’t want to emphasize minute one, minute ten, minute 30 – win, win win.

“You emphasize executing the game plan. Then you just let them play. My ideal game plan (Friday) would be to sit back and watch them play.”

Unfortunately, Sanchez hasn’t had that luxury.  Her Lobos have been competitive in games but have failed to come up with finishes.  They are 5-12 in Mountain West play and 10-18 overall. They are knotted at 5-12 with San Jose State above 0-17 Air Force which has clinched the cellar.

The Lobos suffered a tough 53-48 loss at SDSU which Sanchez called one of the “most disheartening” losses of her career.  Her Lobos did not scored a field goal in the final 11:37 and they were playing against an SDSU team that had only seven healthy bodies.

The Aztecs are still only seven strong, but have won three of their past four games.  They aren’t deep, but they are talented, lean and long. SDSU’s 6-4 center, Cierra Warren, scored 23 on UNM in Viejas Arena.

The Aztecs have the quickness and the athleticism to press and pressure, but they conserve energy and try to cut down on foul trouble by playing a zone.

“We have to make shots and we will,” said Sanchez.  “It’s going to be 99 percent zone for them.   We have to be smart, take care of the ball.”

Vaughn said her plan is to “just play my heart out, giving the best that I have, all that I have, just leaving it on the floor.  We have to go at them aggressively, get them into foul trouble early and that should take care of that.”

Halasz said that “probably my best memory is the first time I ran down the ramp my freshman year and just seeing the crowd and seeing the fans.  That is probably the best thing I’ll remember.”

Which sets the stage for another great memory:  running up the ramp for the final time with a victory.

New Mexico Lobos Women 2013-14 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)