Stevens: Lobos Rule The Boards & The CSU Rams 53-45

Feb. 22, 2012

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit
Wednesday: New Mexico Lobos 53, Colorado State Rams 45
Saturday: TCU Horned Frogs at New Mexico - The Pit

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez said that her Lobos could beat any team in the Mountain West and some proof of that theory was laid down Wednesday night in The Pit.

The Lobos played with poise and threw in some fierce rebounding to surprise the Colorado State Rams 53-45 in Mountain West action. The Lobos pulled ahead late in the first half and never were really challenged by the Rams in the final ten minutes of play.

"I couldn't have my brother upstage me," said Sanchez, referring to her brother who coaches at Eldorado High. " I had to get this one tonight.

Said Caroline Durbin: "We are getting more confident. Everyone can read each other better. We are finding out what works and what doesn't work. We're improving at the right time."

UNM won the board battle against the taller Rams 41-27, which came in handy as UNM had 22 turnovers. However, the Lobos also helped their cause by coming up with 12 steals and 17 offensive boards. The Lobos had 17 second-chance points.

"We were fortunate to have 22 turnovers and still win this game," said Sanchez. "That was too many turnovers. We started a big lineup. We got 17 offensive boards. I think we matched their big lineup very well. It just worked out for us today."

UNM had four players in double figures: Caroline Durbin (16), Porche Torrance (12), Jourdan Erskine (10) and Nikki Nelson (10). "That was amazing," said Sanchez. "We had a really balanced attack. The way we played as a team was absolutely outstanding. They found each other.

"It goes to show the kids, just keep fighting, just keep fighting." Said Nelson: "Our posts really battled tonight. I'm very proud of them. It's so exciting. It's so amazing when you get a win. It's wonderful."

UNM shot 37.3 percent for the game and CSU shot 34.0. The Rams went 3-of-14 from long range. "That didn't hurt us," said Sanchez.

Erskine, who got the start over Jackson to form the bigger lineup, paced UNM with nine boards. Torrance had seven and Jackson had seven. Jackson and Nelson had three steals each. CSU got 15 points from Sam Martin and 15 from Kim Mestdagh. Kelly Hartig had nine boards, but Martin had only one rebound.

Second Half: New Mexico Lobos 27, Colorado State Rams 21

The Lobos opened the half with a 6-0 run that handed them a 30-24 lead at the 16:06 mark. CSU burned a time out. Erskine fueled that run with a follow and a 15-footer that formed the 30-24 count.

At the 11:47 break, a bank shot by Durbin had UNM up by seven, 34-27 and Durbin was coming out of the huddle shooting a free throw. UNM was up on the boards at that point 32-19. Durbin made her free shot: 35-27.

The Lobos continued to play at a high level at both ends of the court. Durbin hit a trey and Torrance scored inside to push UNM up 40-29 with under 10 minutes to go. Torrance advanced UNM to a 42-29 count on a short baseline jumper. At the 7:55 break, UNM was still up 42-29.

Durbin threw the Rams into a 14-point hole with a high-arching trey near the top of the key that might have brushed The Pit's roof before it came down.

The Rams went into a full-court press as the clock ticked down toward the five-minute mark. The Lobos handled it OK. At the 3:56 break, UNM was up 45-36 and CSU had some success inside. At a 1:41 break, CSU had moved the board by a point: 45-37.

The Rams came out of the break and hit a trey: 45-40. UNM's Durbin missed inside, but Erskine poked up a follow that rattled in. UNM was up 47-40 with 1:03 to go. The upset was a few seconds away.

CSU scored on a drive: 47-42 and fouled Nelson with 44 to go. Nelson coolly dropped in her two free shots: 49-49. That pretty much sealed it.

First Half: New Mexico Lobos 26, Colorado State Rams 24 >

The Rams threatened a couple of times to pull away from the Lobos in the first half, but UNM clawed on both ends of the court - hung in there - and eventually earned the 26-24 halftime lead.

The Lobos got the lead on a set play when Sanchez called a timeout inside the final minutes and scratched out a play to free up her best shooter - Durbin. The Lobo junior rolled off a screen and popped in a 3-pointer to hand UNM the two-point lead at the break.

UNM shot 35.7 percent from the floor with Durbin getting seven points. Torrance and Jackson each had five rebounds. CSU shot 36.7 percent with eight points coming from the 6-2 Martin. Mestdagh had six points, five assists and two steals.

It was a good offensive half for the Lobos and at 4:12 two free throws by Torrance had the Lobos down a single point: 22-21. The taller Rams were getting some decent looks, but were missing and not always attacking with their height.

UNM went up 23-22 on a Jourdan Erskine follow of a Jaime Parker miss. CSU went inside to take a 24-23 lead into the 3:02 media break. The Rams didn't score again and UNM finished with Durbin's trey.