Stevens: Lobos Battle Two Enemies Saturday in The Pit
Feb. 7, 2013
Play4Kay/Think Pink Game Promotions - Saturday in The Pit:
The Lobos' game vs. UNLV supports both the Kay Yow Foundation and UNM Cancer Center and aims to raise awareness and donations for breast cancer awareness. The game will include many ways to help this great cause, including:
New Mexico Women's Basketball - Mountain West Road - In The Pit
Saturday: 2 p.m. (MT), UNLV Lady Rebels (8-14, 4-4) at New Mexico Lobos (12-9, 4-4)
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The Lobos have a dual enemy Saturday in The Pit. On the court, they look for revenge against the UNLV Lady Rebels, who slapped down the Lobos in Las Vegas.
It's the start of the second half of the Mountain West run and the Lobos ride a two-game win streak into the turn and are hoping to make a charge toward the top. The Lady Rebels have similar thoughts.
The Lobos also are joining in a fight that carries beyond the court: the fight against breast cancer. The Lobos will take to the Bob King Floor on Saturday sporting pink jerseys in a game designated "Play4Kay/Think Pink Day."
Kay is Kay Yow the former North Carolina State coach, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and lost her battle in January of 2009. The game is a fund raiser and the jerseys worn by the Lobo women will be put up for auction
"There are a lot of women affected by breast cancer and a lot of people affected by cancer," said Sanchez. "Kay Yow made a difference in this battle. It's play for Kay.
"It's really important that we let people understand that we realize the importance of their fight and acknowledge people who are dealing with cancer. If you live very long, you can't help but have friends or family who have battled this disease."
The Lobos will enter the game tied with UNLV in the Mountain West standing at 4-4. The Lobos are coming off a hard fought 72-67 win Wednesday night at Air Force. The Lady Rebels dropped a contest 72-66 in Vegas to league-leading Fresno State.
The Lady Rebels are in exactly the same spot as the Lobos: looking up at Aztecs, Bulldogs and Cowgirls. But can they catch them?
San Diego State and Fresno State top the Mountain with 7-1 marks. The Cowgirls are 6-2. It's probably safe to say the 2013 Mountain West champion will come out of that threesome in some form. The Lobos dropped games to all three and lost in The Pit to SDSU and Wyoming. A huge game Saturday has SDSU at Fresno State. That game is on CBS Sports Network.
What the Lady Rebs and the Lobos are trying to do is make a charge, gain some momentum for the upcoming Mountain West Tournament - and improve. The Lobos improved at the tail end of 2012 and pulled a few upsets in the Thomas & Mack to reach the 2012 title game. UNM fell to SDSU and lost the league's automatic bid.
The Lady Rebels look to be playing well at the end of 2013 because the athletic Rebs always have a chance in the Thomas & Mack, the site of the MW tourney.
An important piece to the UNM puzzle stepped up at Air Force when transfer Antiesha Brown exploded for 26 points. Brown has battled a nagging injury and has lost some crucial court time since she did not become eligible until the second semester.
Brown, and the Lobos, have eight more league games to polish up their act. Ditto for Vegas.
The Lady Rebels will give UNM a chance to shore up an Achilles Heel that has plagued UNM for the past two seasons: turnovers. The quick and athletic Rebels pressured UNM into 27 turnovers in Vegas, a number Sanchez called "horrific." UNM is coming off a 20-turnover game at Air Force.
Despite that high number of miscues, the Lobos came close to the win at UNLV. UNM doomed itself with a stretch at the end where the Lobos had seven turnovers in eight possessions.
The Lobos also have been up and down as a rebounding team. They were outrebounded at Air Force. At UNLV, UNM won that statistical battle 36 to 32. UNM had the lead 57-56 with 2:39 to play. The Lobos never scored again as Vegas turned up the defensive pressure. UNLV finished on a 12-0 run.
The Lady Rebels score at a 63.6 clip per game while UNM averages 59.4 points. The Lobos turn the tables on defense where they yield 59.7 points to Vegas' 68.3. The Lady Rebels lean heavily on Kelli Thompson with second-leading scorer Alana Cesarz out for the season due to injury. The talented Thompson averages 18.2 points per game, tops in the Mountain West. Thompson has exploded for 50 points in the Rebels' last two games versus Fresno State and Boise State. Caroline Durbin is UNM's leading scorer with an 11.8 average.
"Kelli Thompson is going to take a lot of shots and she is a very, very good player," said Sanchez.
Forward Rejane Verin has looked to pick things up in place of Cesarz. She, like Thompson, was a major contributor in their last two games. Verin had eight points and 15 rebounds against Boise State and eleven points and twelve rebounds versus Fresno State.
The Lobos tried to run with the Lady Rebels in Vegas and part of that strategy was to wear the Rebs down, but UNM had those 27 turnovers.
NEW MEXICO LOBOS 2012-13 ROSTER/STATS