New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – At Miami Hurricanes Holiday Tournament – Coral Gables, Fla.
Sunday: Miami 67, New Mexico 50
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
“It was brutal,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez referring to New Mexico’s pre-Mountain West schedule and not the 67-50 loss handed out Sunday by the Miami Hurricanes.
Of course, the brutality of New Mexico’s schedule was by design. Sanchez threw out teams like Miami, Stanford, Colorado, Texas and Texas Tech as preparation for a championship run in the Mountain West race.
“I do think it will prepare us,” said Sanchez of her schedule. “We’re not going to play a team in conference tougher than some of the teams on the schedule we just played. Now, we have a conference to win and that’s our plan.”
The question for New Mexico now is whether or not that challenging schedule has the Lobos prepared for the Mountain West race which breaks out of the starting gate for New Mexico in a week (Sunday, Jan. 5) at Colorado State. The Lobos’ make their MW Pit debut on Wednesday (Jan. 8) vs. Wyoming.
The Lobos definitely have been tested.
Miami gave the Lobos a look at quickness and athleticism the Lobos might never see in the Mountain West. The Lobos also played top-shelf talent vs. Texas Tech, Texas, Colorado and Stanford.
The MW start is a challenging one for the Lobos. Wyoming will carry the leagues’ top record into MW wars at 9-2. The Lady Rams are next at 8-3. Those two teams also have the best RPI rankings in the conference. San Jose State, Utah State and Fresno State are the only other MW teams to bring winning marks into league play – all three at 6-5. UNM sits at 5-6.
“There is a lot to clean up, but I like what we are doing,” said Sanchez.
The Lobos’ learning curve was apparent Sunday in Miami in the title game of the Hurricane Holiday Tournament. UNM lost the first half by 17 points. They matched the talented Hurricanes on the scoreboard in the second half -- 30-30 – as the Lobos adjusted to Miami’s wave of quickness.
UNM shot 27.6 percent in the first half and 40.6 percent in the second half. The Lobos lost the first-half board battle by three, but out boarded Miami 26-to-14 in the second half. The Lobos finished with 20 offensive boards to 13 for Miami.
The Lobos played Miami even in the second half despite getting four points in that half from leading scorer Antiesha Brown and no points from senior Sara Halasz. Brown and Halasz combined to go 4-of-21 from the floor and combined to score only nine points. Halasz had five points in the first half. Brown was 2-of-13 from the floor.
“Those two have to give us better scoring,” said Sanchez. “They are good players and we are going to rely on them. We need those two players to score.”
The Lobos were led by Khadijah Shumpert, who had 12 points and eight rebounds and was named to the Holiday’s All-Tournament team. The Lobos also got a big-time game from Kianna Keller, who had 10 points and nine boards with no turnovers.
UNM got nine points from Brea Mitchell and eight from Bryce Owens, who combined to go 5-of-9 from 3-point range. Owens also had six rebounds, seven assists and a single turnover.
“I thought Khadijah battled,” said Sanchez. “Kianna (Keller) did a nice job and I thought Bryce (Owens) played one of her better games. I was pleased with the play of Brea Mitchell. She hit shots. She got nine minutes (playing time) and was extremely productive. I told her she’ll get more minutes if she’ll just go out there and play hard.”
The Hurricanes established a 17-point lead (37-20) at the half, extended it to 44-20 early in the second half and held on for the 67-50 win.
“We cut it to 13 and had the ball,” said Coach Sanchez. “I like our fight in the second half, but we can’t wait that long.”
New Mexico reached the title game with a 56-37 roll of Western Carolina. Miami beat Morgan State 80-42.
First Half: Miami 37, New Mexico 20
The Lobos did a lot of good things to hang with Miami on the scoreboard going into the final five minutes of play. UNM attacked the boards with a passion to trail that category by only a 23-20 count. UNM did a decent job taking care of the ball against the Hurricanes’ pressure and quickness. UNM had nine first-half turnovers – not bad considering Morgan State had 31 total turnovers on Saturday vs. Miami.
The Lobos trailed 15-12 at the 12:10 mark and were down by nine points (26-17) with 4:54 to play before Miami rolled out an 11-3 finish to create its 37-20 halftime bulge.
The Hurricanes also did some things well including throwing out a pressure defense that limited UNM to 4-of-21 shooting inside the 3-point line. The Lobos went 4-of-8 with long range shots over the Hurricanes’ swarming defense. UNM shot 27.6 percent in the first half to 45.2 percent for Miami (14-of-31). The Hurricanes outscored UNM 22-to-6 in the paint.
“We couldn’t find the basket,” Coach Sanchez said of her team’s shooting in the first half. “Our kids have to be a little more poised against athletic teams. We let it get away from us. We didn’t play our best basketball. We have to be more aggressive and that’s our fault.”
The Lobos surprised the Hurricanes by rolling to a quick 5-0 lead on a bucket by Shumpert and a 3-pointer by Owens. Miami then went on a 14-2 run to slip into a 14-7 lead. The Lobos never recaptured the lead.
UNM’s Halasz hit a trey to pull the Lobos to 15-12 and a trey by Brea Mitchell made it 28-20 in Miami’s favor with 3:52 to play. The Lobos were hanging around, but having trouble handling Miami’s wave of athleticism. The Hurricanes scored the final nine points of the half.