Stevens: Lobos Can't Let Red-Hot Cowgirls Get Hot In Laramie
March 1, 2013
The Lobos' final two home games in The Pit - March 6 vs. Nevada and March 9 vs. Air Force - will be televised by uPublic on their locally-owned Channel 26 (Comcast cable subscribers). The Nevada game has a 6:30 p.m., tip and UNM plays Air Force at 2 p.m.
New Mexico Women's Basketball - Mountain West - At Wyoming
Saturday: 2 p.m.(MT) -- New Mexico Lobos (14-12, 6-7 MW) at Wyoming (21-6, 10-4 MW)
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In a way, it gets easier for Yvonne Sanchez's Lobos when they step into Wyoming's Arena-Auditorium on Saturday.
The Cowgirls do not pressure the ball with the fury of San Diego State, which pounded UNM 72-44 on Wednesday aided by 29 Lobo turnovers.
In a way, it gets tougher for the Lobos. The Cowgirls play the game with a precise passion in front of a rowdy crowd and often are playing a team road weary from the trek to Laramie. Wyoming has won eight of ten and it's Senior Day.
Maybe the best thing the Lobos can hope for is hot water in the shower room.
"Wyoming is probably the toughest place to play on the road," said Sanchez. "Everybody in the conference feels that way.
"It's not easy to get there. They are having all kinds of weather there right now. And then if you are fortunate enough to get to Laramie, you have about three or four thousand fans waiting for you."
Yes, the Arena-Auditorium fans can be a rowdy bunch and the Cowgirls' MW crowd is second only to UNM's loyal support group.
But what is really waiting for UNM are three Cowgirls, who tore UNM apart in The Pit earlier in a 72-54 Wyoming win on Jan. 30. Kayla Woodwood had 20 points and seven boards. Chaundra Sewell, a top candidate for Mountain West Player of The Year, had 17 points and 12 boards. Kaitlyn Mileto soared above her season average (12.7) to score 18 points.
"Wyoming handed it to us pretty good," said Sanchez.
The turnover woes that devastated UNM at San Diego should not be a major concern at Wyoming. The Cowgirls like to set up in half court and pound you on that end with height and fundamentals. The Lobos only had 11 turnovers vs. Wyoming in The Pit.
But there were other problems - well, besides Woodwood, Sewell and Mileto.
The Lobos lost the glass battle 50-to-35. The Cowgirls went to the line 24 times and made 16 free shots. The Lobos were 4-of-7 from the line.
The Cowgirls won a lot of little battles in The Pit. They outscored UNM by six points in the paint. They won the second-chance battle 17-to-6. They scored 17 points off turnovers to eight for UNM.
The end result was a convincing 18-point win. The Lobos got a solid game from Sarah Halasz with 12 points, seven boards and six assists. Deeva Vaughn had 13 points and seven boards.
When you play the Cowgirls, you need to score. They have four players in double figures: Sewell (14.9), Woodward (14.3), Ashley Sickles (11.1) and Mileto (12.7). Alison Gorrell is a capable point guard and averages 3.4 assists per game.
The Lobos are not as offensive and only have Caroline Durbin in double figures with an 11.9 average. Vaughn is next in scoring at 9.5 and leads UNM on the boards with a 5.3 average.
One key for UNM vs. Wyoming is point guard Bryce Owens. The freshman is averaging a respectable 3.8 assists per game, but she has 92 turnovers to go along with her 100 assists. She had five turnovers vs. Wyoming in The Pit and had eight at SDSU. The Lobos can't afford to waste possessions in Laramie.
You really don't want to get into a scoring contest with Wyoming in Laramie, so the Lobos need an exceptional defensive effort against a Cowgirls' team that runs a precise offense.
"You have to defend their screens. You have to defend their threes," said Sanchez. "You have to make sure Sewell doesn't get loose in the post and then you have to take it at them. They are a very, very good basketball team.
"They set good screens (in The Pit) and we didn't switch well and then they hit threes. We have to keep them off the boards. Wyoming can really get hot at home."
The SDSU Aztecs clinched a tie for the MW title with their win over UNM which pushed SDSU to 13-1 in the Mountain. Fresno State is a game above Wyoming (10-4) at 11-3. The Lobos are locked in fourth place with UNLV, both at 6-7. Colorado State is a peg down the ladder at 5-8.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.
NEW MEXICO LOBOS 2012-13 ROSTER/STATS