Beynon's Career Night Not Enough as Lobos Fall to Oral Roberts in WBI

 

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Oral Roberts' Vicky McIntyre, all 6-foot-7 of her, performed as advertised. The Lobos, despite their top seed and a career night from Cherise Beynon, did not.

 

Top-seeded New Mexico had no answer for the Golden Eagles' star center as Oral Roberts ended the Lobos' season 63-61 in the second round of the Women's Basketball Invitational at Johnson Center.

 

Beynon led New Mexico Monday night with a career-high 21 points and 13 rebounds, but uncharastically cold shooting and an inability to contain Oral Roberts finished the Lobos' season and 13-game home win streak.

 

"I thought they [Oral Roberts] came in more aggressive," head coach Yvonne Sanchez said. "I thought we played really timid, especially in the first half for whatever reason. We missed layups, we missed shots we don't normally miss and missed assignments on defense."

 

New Mexico (21-13) came into the WBI with the top seed in the west region, and staved off eighth-seeded North Dakota in the opening round to earn its matchup with the Golden Eagles out of Tulsa, Okla.

 

But Oral Roberts (18-15) and McIntyre, the Golden Eagles' senior center and the nation's leading rebounder, were able to stymie the Lobos into only 20 made field goals on 70 attempts (28.6 percent).

 

"I thought we really backed down," Sanchez said. "Maybe it was the big kid [McIntyre]. We got to the rim and then we missed layups."

 

Oral Roberts, conversely, shot 39.6 percent for the game and leaned on McIntyre for a 32-26 advantage in points in the paint.

 

McIntyre finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks, but had tremendous support as Atoe' Jackson added 12 points and Faith Ihim chipped in 10 points.

 

Benyon also received strong backing from senior Antiesha Brown, who scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half of her final game as a Lobo, and Khadijah Shumpert, who tallied 13 points.

 

But the rest of the Lobos starters combined for four points and the bench contributed only six points. New Mexico also converted only 19 of their 31 attempts from the free-throw line (61.3 percent).

 

And although the Lobos forced the Golden Eagles in 19 miscues and outscored Oral Roberts 25-1 on points off turnovers, New Mexico could never find a rhythm until it was too late.

 

Oral Roberts jumped out to a 10-6 lead less than seven minutes into the contest behind a pair of buckets by McIntyre, but the Lobos responded with an 8-1 surge to take a 14-11 lead.

 

The Golden Eagles came back and bullied their way to a 12-2 run, forcing a New Mexico timeout with just over five minutes left in the half.

 

New Mexico scratched out a 7-2 run to make the score to 25-23 in favor of Oral Roberts, but even as three Golden Eagles players — including McIntyre — picked up three fouls late in the half, ORU managed a two-point lead heading into half.

 

McIntyre had seven points, five boards and five blocks at half, but the rest of her team also produced. Jackson matched McIntyre with seven points at half, and three other Golden Eagles had four rebounds.

 

The Golden Eagles took no time after intermission to increase their score, soaring to a 7-0 run to open the second stanza.

 

It was McIntyre who again influenced the Lobos, forcing UNM away from the basket and making the Lobos settle for jumps shots.

 

But New Mexico couldn't connect on anything, going 2-for-18 to open the second half.

 

It wasn't until the 10:14 mark of the second half that the Lobos connected on anything longer than a layup, by which time Oral Roberts had extended its lead to 43-36.

 

However, McIntyre picked up her fourth foul right after, and frontcourt mate Bernadett Balla was assessed three quick personals to help UNM cut the deficit to three points at the under-8 media timeout.

 

The Lobos continued to make some shots, reeling off a 7-0 run to come with two points at 50-48. New Mexico managed to get within one point at 53-52, and McIntyre fouled out with 2:17 left in the game.

 

Without McIntyre, the Lobos started to finally click offensively, with Beynon and Brown combining for a go-ahead 6-0 run with 1:30 left.

 

"I tried to give it all I had because I wanted to keep the season going," Beynon said. "Nobody wants it to end of course, but as long as I played my hardest and gave it all I had."

 

But a Ihim layup and a wide-open Jordan Doyle three-pointer sandwiched around a Benyon floater off the glass gave Oral Roberts a 62-60 lead.

 

"Defensively, gave up too many points," Sanchez said. "... [We] let a kid shoot a wide-open three at the end and you can't do that. You can't do that with good teams."

 

New Mexico had a chance to regain the lead in the waning seconds, but Kianna Keller failed to corral a rebound off a missed free throw by Benyon with nine seconds left and a Shumpert let an inlet pass go out of bounds to help the Golden Eagles seal the win.

 

For the Lobos, this game caps off a season in which they started 1-7 before roaring back for a second-place finish in the Mountain West and a runner-up performance in the Mountain West tournament.

 

And despite the loss, Sanchez acknowledged the postseason run could pay dividends comes next season.

 

"That is a tough way to go out but it was a great season," the fourth-year coach said. "Really good season. It's really something to build on."