Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Cut Down NAU Lumberjacks 68-57

Nov. 9, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Friday: New Mexico Lobos 68, Northern Arizona 57

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

In a way, it was Lumberjack vs Lobos. The Lobos beat the Lumberjack, 68-33. The Lobos (1-0) also beat the Lumberjacks, 68-57.

The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks came into The Pit Friday night and leaned heavily -- maybe too heavily - on the talent and shots of senior Amy Patton.

Patton came through, scoring a game-high 33 points, but the Lumberjack did seem to wear down at the end as Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez threw a variety of Lobos at the NAU star. No other NAU player reached double figures.

"She almost beat us single handedly. She's a heck of a player," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "You would think we didn't play defense on at all on her. She did get tired. We kept putting people on her and denied her the ball."

Meanwhile, the Lobos used a more balanced attack in scoring and had three players score 13 points apiece: Sara Halasz, Caroline Durbin and Khadijah Shumpert, who went 5-of-8 from inside the paint.

UNM also got nine points from Bryce Owens and seven from Whitney Johnson. Shumpert led UNM on the boards with eight followed by Jourdan Erskine with six rebounds.

"I was proud of these guys," said Sanchez. "There is just a lot of gelling and a lot of meshing to do. It's Game One under our belts and now they have the jitters and the crowd factor under their belts.

"It's time to go to Game Two."

UNM shot 45.3 percent from the floor and probably could have widened its eventual gap, but went 15-of-30 from the free-throw line. Halasz did go 6-of-6 from the line to brighten those stats. Sanchez said her senior was UNM's one "bright spot" at the line.

"We're going to learn from this, but it's better to learn from a win than from a loss," said Durbin.

NAU shot 40 percent, but only 34.6 percent in the second half. NAU went 7-of-14 from the line. UNM won the board battle 41-32. Abrey Davis had 11 boards for the Lumberjacks, but could score only four points inside off the Lobo defense.

The Lobos depth gave UNM an edge on both sides of the court. The Lumberjacks played Patton, and Paige Haynes for 40 minutes and Davis played 39. UNM's Bryce Owens played 35 minutes, but no other Lobo played more than 28 minutes. UNM had nine players playing in double-figure minutes.

"It's such a difference from last year," said Durbin. "We can shuffle people in and out and keep the energy pretty high."

Halasz, who sat out the past two seasons with knee injuries, played her first official game in two seasons. She went 3-of-10 from the floor, 6-of-6 from the line and dished out five assists.

"It was great having Sara out there," said Durbin. "We hadn't played in a real game together in a while."

Said Halasz: "It felt good. It felt great. The coaches and the team had confidence in me and that was in my mind."

The Lobos had a 33-32 halftime lead, but quickly saw Patton dissolve that gap. The smooth Lumberjack opened up the second half with a jumper off the glass to put NAU back up 34-33. Owens got the lead back, 36-34, on a long trey tossed up to beat the clock.

Vaughn hit a single free throw at the 17:24 mark to make it 37-35 in UNM's favor. Patton tied it, 37-all, hitting two free throws. UNM carried a 41-37 lead into the 15:48 break thanks to a nice pass from Whitney Johnson to Shumpert for a layup. NAU was shooting a chilly 16.7 percent from the field at that mark.

A Jackson jumper in the corner handed UNM a 45-39 lead that Patton quickly cut to 45-42 on a trey. Durbin made one of three free throws to give UNM a 46-42 lead and then Johnson scored inside and added a free throw to make it 49-42 in UNM's favor. The Lobos were executing better on offense and Patton hadn't done a lot of damage at that point.

At the 11:59 break, Patton scored for NAU and Jackson hit a perimeter jumper for UNM to form a 51-44 Lobo lead. Patton had 27 points at that break. Halasz, who had 13 at the half, had yet to score for UNM, but had three fouls.

The Lobos then went on a little run to put some space on the scoreboard between them and the Lumberjacks. Owens hit a trey out front that bounced off the front of the rim, but got a sweet bounce and fell into the basket. Jackson hit a baseline jumper to give UNM a 56-45 lead at 9:28 and NAU called a timeout - down 11 points in The Pit.

The Lumberjacks, who lean too much on Patton, needed to lean on their star even more. She delivered on a baseline jumper to cut UNM's lead to 56-47. She added two free throws on a one-and-one to make it 56-49 at the 7:31 media break. Patton had 31 points at that mark and her teammates had 18 points. Patton did appear to be tiring.

"Everybody just tried to slow her down and not let her touch the ball," said Sanchez. "Players like that who come in here, we have to make them work."

NAU had a little run to cut UNM's lead to five points at 58-53. The Lobos got a big bucket inside on a follow by Shumpert: 60-53. NAU cut it to 60-55 and Vaughn hit a reverse layup to bump UNM's lead back up to 62-55. The UNM dagger was delivered by Durbin at the 1:03 mark -- a 3-pointer that pushed UNM to 65-55.

First Half: New Mexico Lobos 33, Northern Arizona 32

The Lobos got 13 points from Sara Halasz and went 7-of-10 from the free-throw line to help form their one-point halftime gap. The Lumberjacks went 1-of-1 from the stripe, but got 17 points from Patton, who went 7-of-13 from the field in the half. Patton was 3-of-6 from 3-point range.

The Lumberjacks got five boards from Raven Anderson and five from Aubrey Davis and edged UNM on the glass 17-15. NAU was hurt by ball handling with nine turnovers to four for the Lobos. UNM got seven points each from Durbin and Shumpert.

The field goal shooting was close as UNM shot 44.4 percent from the floor and NAU shot 44.8 percent. UNM was 2-of-9 from long range and the Lumberjacks were 5-of-11. NAU went up 28-21 and 30-23 before a Halasz-led charge handed UNM the halftime lead.

Halasz hit two free throws to cut NAU's lead to 32-29 and then cut in front of Patton for a steal and a layup to form a 32-31 gap. Durbin hit a 10-foot jumper on a short drive to her left to finalize the 32-31 halftime count.

UNM led 21-20 before the Lumberjacks ran off eight unanswered points to take their 28-21 lead. .