Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Stumble 63-39 To SDSU Aztecs

Jan. 26, 2013

Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - Mountain West - In The Pit

Saturday: San Diego State 63, New Mexico Lobos 39
Wednesday: 7 p.m., Wyoming at New Mexico - Bob King Floor.

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

It just wasn't a good day for Lobos vs. Aztecs - not in San Diego, not in The Pit.

However, it might have been a fairer contest Saturday in The Pit, if Yvonne Sanchez's Lobos had just gone against San Diego State's Chelsea Hopkins and Courtney Clements.

The two talented Aztecs combined for 32 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists and five steals as the Aztecs pounded New Mexico 63-39 in Mountain West action. Sanchez got 10 points from her starters as UNM fell to 10-8 overall and 2-3 in league play.

"Clements and Hopkins are the two best guards in the conference," said Sanchez. "They just bring an attitude and an identity that, `We are the conference champions.' They did a nice job."

Said UNM's Sara Halasz: "Hopkins is a great player and so is Clements. They hit some great shots."

The Aztecs hit a lot of shots early and the Lobos missed a lot early. The Aztecs ran to a 35-16 halftime bulge and the Lobos never recovered.

"We still have a disconnect within the team," said Sanchez. "We have some kids who are afraid to fail. We have a lot of young kids and when they make mistakes, they put their heads down."

The Lobos' plan against the Aztecs was to come out strong and not fall into a hole. That didn't happen. The Aztecs put together enough first-half runs to carry a 19-point lead into the halftime break.

"We needed to come out a little bit stronger, let them know who's in charge and whose house this is," said Lobo Deeva Vaughn. "Team chemistry is where we are struggling right now. San Diego State, with their defense, threw us off tonight.

"We had a bad game tonight. We have to get over it."

Said Halasz: "We didn't come out with the tempo we wanted. We kept digging ourselves into a hole."

The Lobos had problems with Hopkins, Clements and the Aztecs' athleticism. The Wyoming Cowgirls hit The Pit at 7 p.m., on Wednesday with a different brand of ball. The Cowgirls do try to run-and-gun. They like the half-court game and they love to throw screens. Still, the Cowgirls are considered to be one of the top tier teams in the league - a bump behind San Diego State and Fresno State.

""Wyoming is a much different team," said Sanchez. "We have to come back and get Wyoming. If we put our heads down now, it's going to be a long season. We have a tough one on Wednesday, but it's a winnable game."

The Aztecs got 21 points from the smooth Clements and 11 from Hopkins. The Aztecs shot 49 percent from the field. UNM shot 34.7 percent, going 17-of-49 from the floor.

The Lobos didn't do badly on a lot of other game stats, but, like the Lobo men in San Diego, could not develop any rhythm on offense. UNM had no players in double figures and went 4-of-18 from the free-throw line.

The romp by the Aztecs did allow Sanchez to clear her bench as 13 Lobos made the court and the UNM bench outscored SDSU's bench 29-to-15.

"We wanted to be patient on offense and take care of the ball," said Sanchez. "I think their pressure really sped us up. We didn't handle the pressure well at times."

UNM had 19 turnovers, but the Aztecs had 15. UNM and SDSU were even on the boards at 32-all. The Lobos had 13 assists to 11 for the Aztecs.

"We just dug too big of a hole," said Sanchez. "We still felt (at halftime) that we could come back and get back in this game. But some of the kids got down and they didn't recover. Their mindsets have to change. If they play their hardest, I'll live with the results."

The Lobos, down 19 at the half, needed to come out with a fast start and create some doubt in the Aztecs. It didn't happen. At the 15:17 break, UNM had scored two points and were down 45-18. UNM was 1-of-5 from the field at that mark. It just wasn't going to be UNM's night.

Halasz led UNM in scoring with nine points and was the Lobos' top rebounder with five. Whitney Johnson had five points and four boards. Vaughn had eight points, two assists and one steal.

"She played well," Sanchez said of Halasz. "Sara gave some great energy. She tried to pick her teammates up."

First Half: San Diego State 35, New Mexico 16

The Lobos did a lot of things to damage themselves on the scoreboard in the first half, including going 2-of-12 from the free-throw line. UNM also shot 29.2 percent, had 10 turnovers and went 0-of-4 from long range

The Aztecs got 13 points from Clements and eight from Hopkins, who added four assists and seven boards.

UNM's leading scorer, Durbin, had no points and four turnovers. UNM did win the glass battle 20-18. The Aztecs had four 3-pointers and outscored UNM from the free-throw line by a point despite shooting eight fewer shots from the line. The Aztecs scored 12 points off UNM's 10 turnovers and UNM scored only two points off the seven SDSU miscues.

The Lobos did a good job stopping the Aztecs' transition game, but SDSU shot 48.3 percent from the field to spark its half-court attack.

At the 14:23 media break, the Aztecs were up 12-4. UNM was shooting 28.6 percent from the field, but a number of the Lobos' misses were uncontested shots in close. At the 11:45 break, the Aztecs were up 14-7. Hopkins and Clements had combined for 10 points at that mark.

The Aztecs just drifted away. At the 6:02 mark, SDSU was up 28-13 and cruised into their 35-16 halftime lead.