Lobos Advance in WBI with Win over North Dakota
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The survive and advance theory again kicked in for the New Mexico Lobos. North Dakota made a last-minute charge, cut UNM's lead to 52-51, but the Lobos used two free throws by Alexa Chavez to chisel out the 54-51 win.
New Mexico, the No. 1 seed in the West Region of the Women's Basketball Invitational, advances to play Oral Roberts on Monday - again in Johnson Center.
"We can't let the gym or the atmosphere get into our heads," said UNM's Antiesha Brown, who led the Lobos with 12 points. "It felt like home. No complaints."
Chavez went to the line with 37 seconds to play and her team up by a single point. She then had to wait while the floor was wiped clean. The wait didn't seem to bother Chavez as she knocked down both free shots to push UNM up 54-51.Alexa Chavez on a drive
"Alexa stepped up and hit two huge free throws and that was the game," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez.
"I was trying not to think about it," said Chavez of the delay. "It's exciting to have this opportunity and extend our season. It was a fun atmosphere. It was different, but it also was cool at the same time."
The Lobos' WBI game with North Dakota was moved to Johnson Center because WisePies Arena is being used by a professional rodeo tour. The Pit won't be available on Monday either when Oral Roberts comes to town.
The Lobos controlled the game most of the way against North Dakota before USD made a charge.
"We just had to keep pushing," said Brown. "We didn't step on their toes like we wanted to. We held them to 51 points which was great and getting stops on defense was great for us because things weren't going our way on offense."
The Lobos were led by Brown with 12 points. Bryce Owens added nine points and Khadijah Shumpert had eight points. Chavez led UNM on the boards with seven and added six points - two-of-two from the line.
UNM shot 46.7 percent in the first half and dipped to 32 percent in the second half. North Dakota shot 29.6 percent in the first half but warmed up to 45.8 percent in the second half.
The Lobos came out of the half up 33-24 and stretched it to 40-30 on a shot by Chavez near the top of the key. UNM went up 46-33 and UND cut it to 48-41 with 5:50 to play. It got a bit interesting at the 1:05 mark when a trey pulled UND to 52-48 - and more interesting when UND cut its gap to 52-51.
North Dakota followed that bucket with a press and sent UNM's Chavez to the line with 37.3 to play looking at a one-and-one. Chavez made them both: 54-51. UND had a chance at a trey but missed and UNM held on for the win.
"I'm not ready to be through playing collegiate basketball," said Brown.
The game's statistics were close - like the game. Coach Sanchez was not happy with UND's 38-32 edge on the boards. "They outrebounded us and that was huge," said Sanchez. "We have to do a better job on the boards."
Said Brown: "They were very physical. Even their guards were very physical."
The win advanced UNM's record to 21-12 and the Lobos will be looking for win No. 22 when Oral Roberts visits Johnson Center.
"I think for the team (the win) is huge," said Sanchez. "Getting a win in the postseason is huge. We are building to get into the postseason every year.
"It was loud. It was fun. I thought we'd get a few more fans, but the ones who showed up were incredible. Just to have a Lobo feel to it was nice." The attendance was 1,471.
First Half: New Mexico 33, North Dakota 24
The Lobos had a good shooting half to claim their nine-point lead. UNM shot 46.7 percent from the floor and went 3-of-8 from long range in forming the 33-24 halftime count. Shumpert led UNM with eight points while Cherise Beynon and Kenya Pye each had six points. Pye's points came off 2-of-3 shooting from 3-point range.
North Dakota shot 29.6 percent from the field and went 0-of-3 from 3-point range. UND went 8-of-9 from the free-throw line and UNM was 2-of-2. The Lobos led by as many as 13 points and North Dakota led a single time by a single point.
The Lobos broke out of a 13-13 deadlock and used a Josie Greenwood layup in transition to claim a 26-16 lead. UND came back to 26-20 but the Lobos extended their lead to 31-20 with 4:22 to play in the half. North Dakota called timeout. Greenwood flipped in a hook from underneath and UNM took a 33-20 lead into a UND timeout with 1:20 to play. UND got a long layup at the gun to form the 33-24 halftime score.