Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Get Feel-Good 66-43 Pit Romp Over Nevada

March 6, 2013

New Mexico Women's Basketball - Mountain West - In The Pit
New Mexico Lobos 66, Nevada Wolf Pack 43
Saturday: 2 p.m., Air Force Falcons at New Mexico
On The Air: 610-AM KNML; U-Public-TV (Comcast 26)

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The bitter taste in the New Mexico Lobos' mouth is gone - vinegar from the Mountain West road washed away by sugar from The Pit.

It was a feel-good 66-43 Pit romp Wednesday night in The Pit in front of 6,310 fans.

It was New Mexico Lobos getting offensive and Lobos getting defensive. It was one of the Lobos' more complete games of the season. It was a romp. It was a clearing of the UNM bench.

It was a ray of hope to take North to Vegas.

To dust off an old cliché, if this event would have been a boxing match, they would have stopped it early. This wasn't a TKO - it was a MW knockout.

The Yvonne Sanchez Lobos' search for Mountain West Tournament momentum is half complete. The Nevada Wolf Pack hit the canvas 66-43 Wednesday night in The Pit. It was Nevada's 17th loss in its past 19 games.

Air Force visits on Saturday giving UNM a chance to balance its MW record and hit Las Vegas on a two-game winning streak.

And likely on a first-round clash with the UNLV Lady Rebels or the Colorado State Rams. "We plan on staying there til Saturday," said Sanchez of UNM's trip to Vegas' Thomas & Mack Center.

The Lobos obviously threw out one of their better offensive games of the season shooting 54 percent in the first half and 50 percent on the night. UNM ruled the glass, 47-32, and won the paint battle, 48-to-16.

But the Lobos also threw a defensive hammer down on the Wolf Pack, which was held to 25.9 percent shooting.

"They did an excellent job on defense," said Sanchez of her Lobos. "They did an excellent job offensively in finding each other. I'm so proud of what they showed on the court. That was excellent to see. We put up some great numbers."

A key stretch in the game came in the final 13:53 of the first half when Nevada scored only one field goal and fell into a 29-18 hole.

It was a stretch that set a tone. It also was a hole that only got deeper in the second half. UNM came out of the locker room confident and hot, and shot 56 percent in the first five minutes to push Nevada into a 42-24 crevice.

There was still a lot of time to go, but the way the Lobos were playing defense that 18-point hole looked like a Pit grave for the Wolf Pack from Reno.

At the 13:34 mark, Nevada called a time out down 46-24. The Wolf Pack found no answers. An old-fashion 3-point play by Chinyere Nnaji made it 49-24. Really, it was over.

"I thought our kids dug in (on defense)," said Sanchez. "There are a couple of things we have to clean up, but I'm really proud of what they did.

"They deserved this 23-point win."

The Lobos went up 60-31 on back-to-back layups by Alexa Chavez, the second with 7:41 to play. The Lobos coasted to the 23-point romp.

UNM played all 14 Lobos and nine of the Lobos who came off the bench either scored or pulled down a board. No Lobo played more than 27 minutes out of 40. UNM won the points-off-the-bench battle, 33-to-6.

One Lobo sub, Chavez, looked good inside and scored a career-high eight points in only four minutes of playing time. She was UNM's No. 3 scorer in the game.

"The most proud I am right now is bench points," said Sanchez. "And what can I say (about Chavez) -- 4-for-5. I'm so proud of her."

The Lobos were paced on the scoreboard by Deeva Vaughn with 10 points and Caroline Durbin with nine points. Antiesha Brown had 11 boards and seven points.

First Half: New Mexico 29, Nevada 18

It was close for about eight minutes and then New Mexico put down the defensive clamps.

The Lobos pulled out of a 9-all tie at the 13:53 mark on a layup by Vaughn. The Wolf Pack scored a jumper at the 10:02 mark to make the count 19-11 in UNM's favor, but Nevada did not hit another field goal until there was 1:24 to play.

It was the only field goal for Nevada after the 13:53 mark. The Lobos shot a crisp 53.8 (14-of-26) percent in the half to form their 11-point lead. Nevada shot 21.4 percent from the floor going 1-of-7 from 3-point range.

The Lobos won the points-in-the-paint battle 22-8 and had 12 points off the bench to two points for the visitors from Reno. The Lobos were up on the boards, 21-16.

Durbin paced UNM in the half with five points followed by five Lobos with four points: Johnson, Halasz, Vaughn, Jackson and Shumpert. Brown had five boards and Durbin had four.