Italy Day 9
ROME – The whole reason coach Yvonne Sanchez took the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team to Italy was for the experience. It gained valuable experience by both day and night on Tuesday.
After visiting ancient Rome – specifically the Forum and Colosseum – the Lobos ran into a more experienced Netherland National Team and suffered their first defeat in Italy, 53-44 in their third exhibition game.
The two teams face off again here on Wednesday.
“You can tell they’re a very good team, and they practice year-round,” UNM coach Yvonne Sanchez said of the Dutch team. “It’s a good experience for us. Again, I’m going to play everybody to see what kind of roles people are going to fill (this season).”
The orange-clad Netherlands went on a 14-0 run over an eight-minute span in the fourth quarter to turn a three-point deficit into an 11-point lead with just more than a minute remaining.
Senior Antiesha Brown scored a layup off a steal with 50 seconds left that ended an eight-minute scoring drought, but it was too little, too late.
Post players Khadijah Shumpert and Kianna Keller brought the Lobos back from a 21-8, first-quarter deficit. Shumpert scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the third quarter, as the Lobos erased a 31-27 halftime deficit to grab a 42-39 lead with 8:49 left in the game.
But the Netherlands’ Natalie Van Den Adei, who led all scorers with 20 points, kept the Lobos at bay.
Keller kept the Lobos in the game early when the Dutch women gained early control, thanks to multiple backdoor layups. Keller scored all nine of her points in the first half and grabbed three of her four rebounds before intermission.
“Kianna Keller, I thought she had an exceptional game today,” Sanchez said. “The kids are learning. It was good to take away the positive things we’ve done. Obviously, we have a lot of things we have to work on. But it’s August. That’s the way we want to play in February or March – like them (Netherlands).”
Because it is August, the Lobos had an unusual pregame preparation in taking in a history lesson on the city with arguably the most renowned history on earth.
The team’s morning started right outside its hotel less than a mile from ancient Rome. The Lobos’ Rome tour guide, Mia, gave a lesson on the history of Julius Caesar and Nero as part of her talk about a civilization 2,800 years in the making.
The team was shown the area in which Caesar was killed by 23 senators who no longer wished to be under his rule. The Lobos also saw the place where Marc Antony gave his oration on Caesar’s death that led to the overthrow of the 23 senators.
Later, the team learned that the world has to thank Nero for the Colosseum. The guide talked about Nero’s narcissism that led to his reign of terror. The guide told the team that when Rome finally revolted and overthrew Nero, the new regime had to get rid of all the reminders of Nero as ruler.
One of the acts was to raze Nero’s palace, in which a 95-foot statue of Nero stood. Citizens had to climb to the top of the statue and chiseled away Nero’s face, turning it into a statue of the sun. The Colosseum, whose actual name is the Flavian Amphitheatre, was built on the land of Nero’s palace in an attempt to help Rome forget about Nero’s reign.
On Wednesday, the Lobos will visit the Vatican and then get a second chance at the Netherlands National Team at 6:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. Mountain Time).