Stevens: Lobo Rally in Fresno Falls Short in 69-65 Mountain West Loss

Jan. 12, 2013

Final Stats

New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - Mountain West - At Fresno State

Saturday: Fresno State 69, New Mexico Lobos 65
Wedneday: Boise State at New Mexico

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

In the final 11:27, there was no question which team was the best team on the floor and which player was the best point guard. UNM beat Fresno State 24-11 over that stretch of time behind a Bryce Owens-paced rally.

However, when you toss in all the other minutes and the play of Fresno's Ki-Ki Moore, it's easy to see why the Fresno State Bulldogs ran to their 18th consecutive home-court win by a 69-65 count over the hard-charging Lobos.

A 17-point hole is just too much of a climb on the Mountain West road.

"We got ourselves in a hole and in my opinion Fresno State is the best team in our conference," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "But I told them (Lobos) if they left everything out on the court (in the second half), I could live with the results.

"And they did that."

UNM fell behind 58-41 with 11:27 to play on a Ki-Ki Moore layup and it looked like the Bulldogs had found a chew toy in Fresno. Instead, the Lobos pulled themselves off the canvas and almost knocked Fresno State to the floor.

The Lobos closed to 60-57 on a Bryce Owens' trey before the Bulldogs closed out the Mountain West win on the line and with two key buckets inside.

"That was one of her best games in a long time," Sanchez said of Owens, who finished with 13 points (all in the second half), seven boards and seven assists. "I like her emotion. She is such a fiery kid.

"She was the one who sparked the comeback and took everybody with her. Bryce is an incredible kid."

The Lobos got 16 points from Caroline Durbin, 13 from Owens, 12 from Antiesha Brown and 11 from Deeva Vaughn. Moore went 9-of-15 from the floor and led all scorers with 22 points. Rose Moult had 14 points for Fresno State.

The Lobos ruled the boards 42 to 25 with Vaughn and Owens each pulling down seven while Brown hauled down six boards. The Lobos had 20 offensive rebounds to 10 for the Fresno `Dogs. UNM shot well from the field at 45 percent and Fresno State matched that at 46 percent.

"They (Lobos) are doing a heck of a job," said Sanchez. "I still have to remember how young we are. We are still gelling. We almost beat the No. 1 team in the conference on their home court. I'll take the effort and I'll take the fight."

There were two other changes in the second half that helped the Lobos climb out of their deficit. UNM had 13 turnovers in the first half, but only three in the second half. UNM also switched to a zone defense, which was a roll of the dice against a smooth offensive team like Fresno.

"The way they shoot the three, it's hard to play a team like this zone," said Sanchez. "I finally said, `We have to go zone and see what happens.' That made a difference.

"This is a good game for us to build on and we will. We did some really, really good things. We fully intend to be a contender."

The Lobos had 16 turnovers and Fresno State had only nine. Fresno outscored UNM 20-to-14 off turnovers and 36-to-28 in the paint. UNM's dominance on the glass gave them a 15-to-10 advantage on second-chance points.

Fresno had 12 steals and UNM had seven, which helped Fresno State to its edge in points-off-turnovers. Alex Sheedy had four steals for Fresno and Taylor Thompson had three steals.

The Bulldogs went to the line late in the game to finish 10-of-13 while UNM went 3-of-8.

Second Half: New Mexico 36, Fresno State 29

The Lobos' 40-29 halftime hole proved to be too deep to crawl out of. But the Lobos did some glorious climbing rallying from a 17-point halftime gap to scare the Bulldogs by pulling to within three at 60-57.

The Lobos were active, played hard and hit the glass with a passion. However, the Bulldogs have a well-polished offense and they have Ki-Ki Moore.

Moore scored on an acrobatic layup at 13:20 to hand Fresno State a 51-37 lead. She then drove and scored off the glass to hand the Bulldogs their biggest lead at that point, 53-37. That was Moore's 18th point of the game.

The `Dogs got a 3-pointer by Robin Draper and another layup by Moore which produced a 58-41 Fresno lead and convinced Coach Sanchez to burn a timeout - down 17 on the road to a team that had won 17 straight home games.

The Lobos needed to cut into that deficit quickly. Durbin then hit back-to-back jumpers to slice that gap to 58-45 going into the 9:47 media break. Moore had 20 points and UNM needed to contain this talented Bulldog. She only scored two points the rest of the way.

UNM's Owens then got a steal and scored in transition for her first bucket of the game: 58-47 at the 9:24 mark. The Lobos were back to their 11-point halftime gap. UNM missed several offensive opportunities before Moore burned UNM again: 60-47.

An Owens' trey off the glass made it 60-50 and with 6:46 to play, Sanchez called time. At the media break at 6:34, UNM was still down 60-50. The Lobos had stolen away some of the momentum and were playing with a high-level of intensity. They still needed to make an impressive run - and stop Moore - to pull off the Mountain West road upset.

Moore missed a trey and Brown scored inside: 60-52. Fresno State came up empty again and Brown hit a 15-footer: 60-54. The Lobos were closing; the Bulldogs were coasting.

The `Dogs turned it over and Owens slammed in a trey: 60-57. UNM had cut its 17-point deficit to three. The Lobos were playing loose and the Bulldogs were tightening up. The Bulldogs needed a score. Thompson rolled in a big layup for Fresno: 62-57. That count went into the media break at 3:47.

Durbin missed and Fresno worked the shot clock down. Moult scored inside: 64-57. Owens bounced in a huge trey and UNM called time down 64-60 with 2:43 to play. The `Dogs needed to burn some more ticks off the clock, but also needed to score. The Lobos were hot.

Fresno missed a trey. Owens missed long, but Vaughn got the board. Owens missed another trey and missed the rim. UNM got the board but lost possession on a shot-clock violation. Fresno failed to score, but UNM also failed to convert.

Fresno got the board and worked the clock down to 32 seconds before calling a timeout. UNM only had four team fouls and needed to quickly foul the `Dogs to work them to the line.

UNM fouled three times quickly and Fresno's Farley finally went to the line looking at a one-and-one with 28 ticks to go. Farley made the all-important first one and repeated it to form a 66-60 lead. Owens scored quickly: 66-62. Farley went back to the line with 16 seconds to go and again came through: 68-62.

Vaughn made it interesting by draining a trey: 68-65 with seven seconds to play. However, Fresno was an in-bounds and a free throw away from its win.

The Bulldogs couldn't' get the ball in on their first attempt and called time. They got it into Moult with five seconds to play. She ended it with a single make: 69-65. That was it.

First Half: Fresno State 40, New Mexico 29

There were a couple of stat lines that suggested the Lobos might be in the first-half lead. UNM shot 42.3 percent and had 11 more rebounds than did Fresno State. However, the Bulldogs shot 52 percent and had 10 fewer turnovers than did the visitors from Albuquerque.

The Lobos jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a jumper by Durbin and UNM also led the Bulldogs 13-12 at the 14:39 media break. Fresno then rolled into leads of 20-13 and 28-18 which helped form their 40-29 halftime lead.