March 1, 2011
Lobo Women's Basketball - In The Pit
Tuesday: Brigham Young 65, Lobos 49
Up Next: Saturday at Air Force, noon
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
At the end, when Lobo seniors Amanda Best and Jessica Kielpinski said their final goodbye to The Pit, it was Lobos being smooth, confident and purposeful. And The Pit had two good reasons to come to its feet to cheer.
There was less of that stuff in the previous 40 minutes of basketball when the Brigham Young Cougars launched in 11 treys to hand the Lobos a 65-49 Mountain West Conference loss Tuesday night in The Pit.
"I thought their press bothered us," said Lobo coach Don Flanagan. "It kind of slowed us down and they executed very well. I thought they were the best team in the conference and they affirmed that tonight."
The Lobos and BYU played most of the first half even and UNM led 14-13 with 6:38 to go. Then the BYU bombs started falling and the Cougars went into halftime up 31-21.
"We switched up the defense a little bit and I think some people got confused ," said Best, who finished with ten points, eight boards and six assists.
Said Kielpinski: "I think we were playing the drive a little bit more and we weren't contesting shooters as well as we should have. We should have put a little more effort in putting pressure on the threes."
The Cougars definitely threw a sour note on UNM's Senior Night and BYU did it mostly with key bombs from behind the line. Even in the second half when the Lobos threatened to make a run at BYU, the Cougars would usually answer with a big 3-pointer.
Or a drive to the glass.
"A lot of times on (their) drives, if (they) got by one person, it was a wide-open layup," said Best.
The Cougars (22-7, 14-1) came out in the second half and quickly raised their 10-point lead to 19 points at 42-23. The Lobos got to 49-39 following a jump shot by Chinyere Nnaji and a 3-pointer by Jasmine Patterson.
BYU answered with what else - a 3-pointer to go up 52-39. The Cougars backed that with a drive to the glass and a layup and their lead was back to 15 points at 54-39. That was the Lobos' last run and last chance. UNM never again got closer than 13 points.
"I just wanted to win," said Best of her Senior Night experience. "I'm not a real emotional type and this is not the end for us."
The Lobos still have an outside chance of reaching the NCAA postseason, but that would take a long run through the MWC Tournament to be held in Las Vegas. UNM is 10-17 on the season and 4-11 in league play. The Lobos end the season Saturday at Air Force. A team has to have a .500 record to be invited to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
The Lobos also got double figures from Patterson with ten. Caroline Durbin came off the bench to score eight points, hitting several big-time jumpers. Kielpinski chipped in seven points and hauled down five rebounds.
"It was extremely emotional," said Kielpinski. "Realizing it was your last game, I think I put a little more pressure on myself. I kind of lost it."
BYU got 22 points from Coriann Fraughton and 13 more from Mindy Bonham. Fraughton went 4-of-4 from behind the line in BYU's 11-of-18 shooting from long range. BYU had 17 assists to 10 for the Lobos, but a lot of those assists were easy passes to wide open Cougars behind the line.
"That seems to be a consistency of this team, that we're not contesting 3-point shooters," said Flanagan. "At least not well enough. We have to do a better job of that. I thought we were just a half step late on contesting those threes. Then they deliver.
"They (Cougars) play strong at both ends of the floor. They took us out of our offense. Their defense is good. In the second half, we did start going at it a little harder."
The Lobos had several runs featuring good shooting, but often the Cougars were answering at the other end, too.
"I wish them well," Flanagan said of the Lobos' conquerors from Provo. "They are the most disciplined and most talented team in the league."