Photo by R.Stevens
Photo by R.Stevens
Stevens: Lobos Look To Get Payback vs. CSU Rams
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/24/2014

New Mexico Lobos Women’s Basketball – In The Pit

When/Who: 6 p.m. (MT), Saturday – Colorado State (13-4, 5-1 MW) at New Mexico (7-10, 2-4)

On The Air: 610-AM with Joe Behrend and Nikki Heckroth-Lobato. (Pit’s frequency: 89.5 FM)

GoLobos.com: Game Story, LoboTV, Stats, Quotes

By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

When it comes to the panic hotel, the Lobos say they aren’t ready to check in and the parity of the Mountain West doesn't cast a forbidden shadow on league teams carrying four losses.

But it might be best to avoid that fifth loss since the halfway mark is still a few games away.

“I really don’t want panic to set in,” said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. “There are some teams that are starting to separate themselves a little bit and to stay pace with that upper half, you have to pick up home wins and then find a way to pick up some road games.”

Said point guard Bryce Owens: “There definitely is some concern, but like coach says, we are definitely not going to panic.  We hope to get out of this losing streak.”

The Lobos get their chance to shake that three-game skid when the Colorado State Rams visit The Pit at 6 p.m., on Saturday.  The Rams are throwing out a nice season at 13-4 and are at the top of the Mountain West standings at 5-1.  CSU comes to The Pit looking to create more separation.  UNM hopes to cut the gap.

The Lobos lost to CSU in Fort Collins and that obviously brings some added pressure to the game for the home team.  The Lobos don’t want to be swept especially by a team already three games up in the loss column.

“I think this is a very important game for us,” said UNM’s Khadijah Shumpert. “It’s an important win that we need since we’ve lost to them once. We have to let them know that this isn’t going to happen again.”

If Sanchez is right about the Mountain West being a one team league when it comes to NCAA tourney bids, then the regular-season is just window dressing.  Sure, it’s nice to win a regular-season title because that reflects consistency and winning over the long grind. The championship rings and banners are cool things to have. 

But if Sanchez is right, the only Mountain West team that will go dancing is the winner of the MW Tournament in Las Vegas.

Still, the Lobos don’t want to lose in The Pit and Sanchez wants to see her team start doing things that the Lobos will need in Vegas.

Like defense.

New Mexico actually has been a solid defensive team most of the season, but Sanchez did not like the defensive effort she saw in UNM’s 74-60 loss at Boise State on Jan. 22.  UNM also gave up 80 points in a 80-68 roll at UNLV.

“I feel like we lacked defense in the last game and that’s something that we’re going to need in order to win,” said Owens.  “We have to turn up our defense.”

The Rams play pretty good defense, too.  They beat UNM 62-50 in Fort Collins which is UNM’s lowest point total in MW games.  The Rams are holding opponents to 63.9 points per game.  UNM has a 65.2-point yield.  CSU averages 72.1 points and UNM scores at a 60.8 clip.

CSU also shoots better from the field, from 3-point range, from the line, and holds its opponent to .386 percent shooting to .419 for the Lobos.

The Rams will not go down easy.  “We have to stop Sam Martin from getting so many touches,” said Owens.

Said Sanchez: “Sam Martin had a great game. They hit a couple of threes late and put it out of reach (at CSU).  They are a good team and have picked up a good deal of foreign kids. They are playing with a lot of confidence.  It will be the same (CSU) team with a lot more confidence.”

After UNM’s loss at Colorado State, Sanchez said it was too early to hit the panic button and UNM came back to throw out maybe its best game of the year in a 75-65 win over Wyoming.

The Rams got 14 points and 10 boards from Martin, who came up with a lot of big put-backs when UNM was trying to make a run.  CSU also went 13-of-16 from the free-throw line and UNM was 2-of-2.

Martin paces CSU in scoring at 12.1 points per game, but the CSU attack is balanced with the five starters averaging 8.9 points to 12.1 points.  Caitlin Duffy comes off the bench with a 12.0 average.  The Rams have good height in the 6-2 Martin and 6-3 Elin Gustavsson.

UNM gets double figures from Antiesha Brown at 13.3 and Sara Halasz at 11.4.

This game was originally set for the afternoon, but was moved to 6 p.m., to separate it from the Lobo men, who were moved to an afternoon start in Fort Collins.

“It’s not just the five us on the court, it’s also the fans,” said Shumpert of the emotional lift UNM gets from its crowd.