Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Hold Off Texas Tech For a 65-61 Pit Win

Nov. 15, 2012

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Thursday: New Mexico Lobos 65, Texas Tech Red Raiders 61
Up Next: 1 p.m., Sunday, Houston Baptist at New Mexico.

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

What a difference a year makes - and a few more healthy bodies.

The New Mexico Lobos, blown out 69-43 a year ago in Lubbock, withstood the Texas Tech pressure, hammered the Red Raiders on the board, and posted an impressive 65-61 win Thursday night in The Pit.

"Our depth really helped us out," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez.

The Lobos seemed a bit hesitant in the first five minutes, but once they adjusted to the Tech pressure, seemed to realize they could play with the visitors from Lubbock. And they did.

New Mexico held off numerous Tech charges and hit big basket after big basket to go 2-0 on the young season.

"That was a lot of fun. It was just a total team effort," said Coach Sanchez "Texas Tech is a good team. We had 22 turnovers but on the bright side, we had 30 last year (at Tech)."

The Lobos came from behind in the first half to go up 33-30 at the half. UNM went up by as many as nine points in the second half, but the closest Tech could come was a 42-42 tie with 14:53 to play.

Maybe the biggest shot for UNM came with 28 seconds to play when freshman point guard Bryce Owens hit a 3-pointer on an in-bounds play that put UNM up 62-56.

"I can't even describe the feeling," said Owens. "I don't believe I've ever hit a more intense shot in my life. That was not the plan. I just happened to be wide open."

The Lobos led 55-48 with 6:09 to play. Tech closed to 59-56 with 1:07 to play. Tech and UNM then exchanged turnovers before Owens banged in her 3-pointer.

"That was the game," said Sanchez. "Bryce played fearless. She has such a fire in her belly. When it was time to take over the game, she did."

So did Vaughn. She added 10 boards to post her first double-double as a Lobo. Her inside presence was exactly what UNM needed to go along with Owens, Sara Halasz and Caroline Durbin on the edge.

"When I'm in the post, I feel like I'm at home," said Vaughn. " "We just all came together. We didn't crumble or anything. We kept coming through. I feel we did a really good job executing offensively and defensively."

Said Sanchez: "That's the Deeva Vaughn I remember and hopefully that's the Deeva Vaughn you are going to see the whole year."

UNM had four players in double figures: Vaughn with 15, Owens with 15, Durbin with 11 and Halasz with 10. UNM shot 42.1 percent to 38.5 percent for Tech. UNM had 42 rebounds to 33 for the Red Raiders. Tech had 18 turnovers and UNM had 22. Tech had only two fast-break points.

"We didn't want to give up transition baskets. That was a definite emphasis," said Sanchez. "We also didn't want to give up offensive rebounds."

Tech had three offensive boards in the first half and 11 in the second 20 minutes. Tech was damaged by 2-of-14 shooting from 3-point range and had only one assist in 40 minutes of basketball. That stat was influenced by the athletic Tech players going one-on-one at the UNM defense. Tech had 34 points in the paint.

"They did a nice job of taking us to the basket," said Sanchez.

Said Owens: "I wanted to beat them as bad as (seniors) did. I was too nervous to look at the score. It was just, `Let's keep our composure and finish the game."

Which is exactly what the Lobos did.

Second Half: New Mexico 32, Texas Tech 31

UNM came out of the locker room up 33-30 and a Halasz trey pushed it to 36-30. Tech, which was outrebounded 22-10 in the first half, pulled to 36-34 off some aggressive offensive rebounding. Halasz muscled up a drive, was fouled, converted, and UNM was up 39-34.

Tech continued to aggressively attack the glass to score inside. At the 15:34 media break, UNM was up 42-40. Khadijah Shumpert, injured in the first half, came back on the court and scored inside: 44-42 UNM. Vaughn scored in transition: 46-42 UNM.

UNM got two big buckets. Owens threw a ball out of bounds but came back with a steal and a layup to hand UNM a 48-44 lead. Vaughn hit a trey to push the Lobos to 51-44. At the 10:38 break, UNM was up 51-46. Jackson made it 53-46 following a Vaughn miss . At the 6:32 break, UNM was up nine: 55-46. Tech was shooting 28.6 percent. UNM was only down 17-to-15 in turnovers at that mark. At 4:09, UNM was up 57-51. At the 3:07 break, UNM was up 59-53 in possession of the ball after a Tech charge. UNM lost that chance on a shot-clock violation.

Tech turned that into Smalls at the line shooting a one-and-one. The quick Raider made both: 59-55. It was a four-point game and Tech called time with 2:28 to play. The visitors needed some stops, steals and scores. UNM needed to work the clock but still get off good shots - or go to the line.

The Lobos' Owens missed a tough shot at the edge of the shot clock. Tech boarded and instead of attacking the glass, bombed a brick from long range. UNM boarded and Sanchez called time with 1:29 to play - still up 59-55. UNM paid Tech back with a bad shot. Tech rebounded and Smalls was fouled on a drive by Owens. Smalls made one: 59-56.

Smalls came up big on the defensive end with a steal. She lost her dribble and probably made a mistake kicking the ball to a forward instead of a guard. The forward was called for walking. UNM had the ball with 50.6 to play and leading 59-56.

Owens then launched a dagger on an in-bounds play. Her 3-pointer hit nothing but net and UNM was up 62-56. Tech called time with 29.7 to go.

Shumpert got called for a foul at 23.7. Tech's Christine Hyde made one and missed and Tech got two offensive chances. They missed and Halasz got the board - and a foul - with 15.6 to play. Halasz made one: 63-57, but that probably was enough.

Tech got a layup and called time with 8.1 to play - down 63-59. The Lobos were an in-bounds away from the win. UNM got the ball into Durbin, who was fouled at 6.2. Tech had run out of time. Durbin made her free shots and Tech got a meaningless layup to form the 65-61 final.

First Half: New Mexico 33, Texas Tech 30

The Lobos and the Red Raiders went back and forth in the first half before two Vaughn put backs helped UNM hold a 33-30 halftime edge.

UNM had early trouble with Tech's pressure, but adjusted. The Lobos had seven turnovers in the first five minutes and six the rest of the way in total 13 at the half. UNM shot 48.1 percent from the floor with eight points from Vaughn. Tech was led by Smalls with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. UNM had 22 boards, 10 offensive, to 10 total for Tech.

The Red Raiders got the first bucket, but UNM was up 7-6 at the first media break at 15:36. The Lobos were shooting 3-of-3 with three turnovers. Tech was 3-of-5 with three turnovers. UNM's edge was a 3-pointer by Owens.

Tech came out of that huddle, kept up the pressure, and UNM turned it over. After Smalls twice blew through the UNM defense for layups - and a 10-7 Tech lead - Coach Sanchez called a timeout. At the 11:52 break, UNM was down 10-9.

The plot line for UNM at this point was break the press and get an easy shot - or turn it over. UNM had seven turnovers but were shooting 4-of-5. Smalls had six points for Tech.

The Lobos began to adjust to the Tech pressure. It gave UNM more shots and took away Tech's transition game. UNM got buckets from Durbin and Owens to grab a 13-11 lead. Vaughn got a steal and went coast-to-coast to push in a tough layup. UNM was up 15-11.

UNM's Shumpert went down at the 7:35 mark after fouling Smalls on a drive. Smalls scored and Shumpert was helped to the end of the UNM bench. Smalls converted at the line to form a 15-14 count.

Chinyere Nnaji extended UNM to a 17-14 lead on a follow. Tech used the line to tie it, 17-all at 6:59, 20-all at 5:46 and 22-all at 4:35. That 22-22 tie carried into the 3:54 break. Tech was 8-of-14 from the line at that huddle and UNM was 3-of-8.

Tech went up 27-24 on a Smalls' trey that Durbin answered to make it 27-all. Vaughn scored on two put backs down the stretch to hand UNM its 33-30 halftime lead.