New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – On The Mountain West Road
When/Where: 2 p.m. (MT), Sunday – New Mexico at Colorado State
On The Air: 610-AM with Joe Behrend
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete Statistics
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The gamble Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez threw at her Lobos was really the right thing to do. You don’t get better by pounding on cupcakes. But will that gamble pay off in Fort Collins on Sunday?
“The hardest part of a schedule like that is how you come out mentally,” said Sanchez. “I like where we are mentally. I’m hoping that it (schedule) will help us.”
Said Khadijah Shumpert: “It opened our eyes.”
The Sanchez gamble has names: Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, Colorado, Miami. It was a killer schedule designed to better prepare her Lobos for the tests and the grinds of the Mountain West season. The Lobos will be tested by Colorado State. The Rams are 9-3 and coming off a key 64-61 MW win at San Diego State.
“No team is easy and the road is tough,” said Sanchez. “Colorado State is good. They shoot the ball well. They run transition well.”
The stats from Colorado State’s 64-61 win at San Diego State tell you something about the Rams. They find ways to win games.
The Rams were outrebounded by 16 and were outshot from the floor 40.4 percent to 34.5 percent yet picked up a key Mountain West road win. They did it by hitting seven more treys, four more free throws and taking better care of the basketball.
The Rams do a lot of fundamental stuff well. They might not wow you with Aztec or UNLV athleticism, but they’ll wow you with execution. And – if they can –they’ll hurt you with the long stuff.
“Colorado State is not going to pound the ball inside,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. “They shoot a ton of threes.”
The Rams have shot more 3-pointers (299) than any other Mountain West team except for San Jose State (312). “They like to shoot the three, a lot,” said Lobo Kianna Keller. UNM has 162 long-range launches. CSU hits at a modest .301 clip from long range, but will try, try and try again. The Lobos are last in the MW with a .284 mark from trey territory.
“We haven’t shot the ball real well (from the outside),” said Sanchez. “It has to be defense. That’s our identity. We have to stop teams.”
The Lobos top the Mountain in scoring defense allowing 62.4 points, an even more impressive number when you consider the Lobos’ schedule. The Lobos also have the MW’s best defense against 3-pointers allowing a .285 percentage over 11 games. UNM leads the Mountain in offensive boards with 16.5 per game.
The Lobos will try to do what they do best in order to win in Fort Collins and the Rams will lean to their strengths trying to hold serve at home in Moby Arena. The Lady Rams usually play well at home. They lost to Colorado by four points in Fort Collins. UNM lost to Colorado by 32 in The Pit.
CSU gives up 65.8 points per game. The Rams have a paper edge in scoring with a 69.8 average to 58.2 for New Mexico.
The Rams do a good job of getting to the line. They are No. 2 in free throws shot with 224 in12 games for a .754 percentage. UNM has shot 169 freebies in 11 games for a .615 percentage. CSU hits at a .401 clip from the floor and the Lobos are last in the MW with a .365 percentage.
“We have to post up hard and get the ball inside,” said Sanchez.
The Lobos have some scorers inside. Antiesha Brown, an inside-outside threat, tops the Lobo scoring charts with her 13.6 average. The 6-foot Khadijah Shumpert averages 9.3 points and 6-4 freshman Kianna Keller is gaining confidence inside and coming off a 10-point effort at Miami. UNM also returns 6-foot Deeva Vaughn to the lineup after missing her for five games.
The Rams have three players in double digit scoring behind 5-10 Gritt Ryder (10.6), 6-2 Sam Martin (10.9) and 5-11 Caitlin Duffy (12.4), who provides spark and scoring off the bench.
“Sam Martin is as solid as they come,” said Sanchez. “If we play behind her, she is going to kill us inside.”
Said Shumpert: “I think Martin is definitely going to raise some eyebrows.”
Said UNM’s Keller: “They have some good post players. Martin shoots really well inside, so we are going to have to work on her.”
The Rams also get 9.8 points a game from 6-3 Elin Gustavsson and 9.6 points from 5-3 AJ Newton. The Rams have lots of weapons. Ryder averages 4.4 assists per game and Duffy averages 6.3 boards. Martin and Gustavsson are consistent inside shooting 49 and 44 percent, respectively. Duffy tops the Mountain shooting 89 percent from the free-throw line. Ryder, Newton and Duffy are the three Rams you don’t want to give open looks behind the 3-point line.
“I’m definitely excited about conference,” said UNM’s Keller. “The upperclassmen have said that this is our real season. This is really where we’re staring at, so I’m getting really excited to see where we are going to go from here.”
New Mexico Lobos 2013-2014 Season Roster