Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Need Ki-Ki Moore To Score Less
Feb. 12, 2013
New Mexico Women's Basketball - Mountain West - In The Pit
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (MT), Fresno State (15-7, 7-2 MW) at New Mexico Lobos (12-10, 4-5 MW)
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
So, who is the maddest? The New Mexico Lobos coming off a one-point Pit loss to UNLV or the Fresno State Bulldogs coming off a 74-59 home-court thumping handed out by league-leading San Diego State.
"They are probably pretty mad losing to San Diego State, especially the way they did," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "But we're pretty mad losing to UNLV."
Said UNM's Jourdan Erskine: "I definitely think that nitty-gritty (loss) was harder than losing by 30."
OK, there will be two mad teams buzzing around The Pit Wednesday night. But will the anger factor really come into play or will it come down to Xs and Os, defense, rebounding, field goal percentage - and maybe Bulldog Ki-Ki Moore , who torched the Lobos for 22 points in Fresno's win in California.
As far as the Mountain West title goes, the run in The Pit is more important to Fresno State. The Bulldogs bring a 7-2 league mark to Albuquerque are only a game back of the 8-1 Aztecs. SDSU won in The Pit. Fresno needs to win in The Pit.
Wyoming also is 7-2 and that trio is in a sprint to the wire. Everybody else is watching, hoping to play the spoiler's role.
The Lobos are 4-5 with four MW teams ahead of them and four MW teams beneath them on the Mountain's won-loss column. The Lobos are pretty much out of the race, but there is MW tourney seeding to think about, momentum and confidence to build, and something else.
The Lobos don't like to lose in The Pit.
"We want to play well at home," said Sanchez. "Not that we didn't against UNLV, but we didn't get the win. It (a win over Fresno) would be a statement game, so it's really important."
If the Lobos are to get a regular-season win over the Mountain's Big Three, the Bulldogs probably represent the best chance. UNM was thumped in The Pit by both SDSU and Wyoming and now have to play in San Diego and in Laramie. That will be tough. The Pit is an easier place to win.
But the Lobos gave the `Dogs a scare in Fresno crawling out of a 17-point hole only to lose 69-65. UNM outscored Fresno 24-11 over the final 11:27.
Sanchez threw out a gamble in that comeback in Fresno. She went zone on a team that can burn you from the outside. Will the `Dogs see the zone in The Pit?
For sure, the Bulldogs will see the Lobos toss the ball into the paint a lot. "The biggest thing for us is to get the ball inside," said Sanchez. "And hopefully get them in foul trouble."
The biggest thing for the Lobos is to contain Moore while not letting any other Bulldogs cause too much pain on the scoreboard. The `Dogs can shoot. They are No. 2 in the Mountain with a 69.0 scoring average, No. 2 from long range with a .345 percentage, and No. 1 in 3-pointers made (7.3) per game.
"We can't let them get hot from the outside," said Sanchez. "(Moore) is an awfully good player in this conference. She can get to the basket. She can shoot the three. We have to keep her in front and make her make difficult shots. We can't get frustrated when she does make some of those shots because she will.
"Fresno State is a tough one. We have to shoot the ball better and I think we will. We have to play better defense and I think we will. This team is starting to come together."
The Bulldogs are not a savage team on the boards, but they average 13.1 steals per game and are No. 1 in the league in turnover margin at plus 5.19. Moore makes a lot of things happen for Fresno. She is the Bulldogs' leading scorer with a 16.6 average and tops the Mountain in steals at 3.1 per game.
Rosie Moult averages 12.6 points for Fresno and Taylor Thompson averages 11.2 points and 4.0 assists. Alex Sheedy averages 10.1 points and 5.4 boards. Moore tops the Fresno rebounding chart with her 6.3 average. She is quick and she hustles.
"They are not like a lot of the other teams in our conference," said UNM's Khadijah Shumpert. "All of them can shoot, including the post players. For us post players, we have been practicing a lot on being able to guard a guard because their posts are like guards."
The Bulldogs have a solid starting five, but do not go deep off the bench. At Fresno, UNM got 16 points from Caroline Durbin, 13 points from Bryce Owens, 12 from Antiesha Brown and 11 from Deeva Vaughn. UNM crushed Fresno on the glass, 42-25.
"It's just a matter of us jelling," said Shumpert. "We never know who is going to be hot and that has taken a toll on us for sure."
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