Stevens: Lobos Spank North Texas & Meet No. 9 Georgia In Finals

Nov. 23, 2012

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New Mexico Lobos Women's Thanksgiving Tournament -- In The Pit

Saturday: 7 p.m., Championship Game: Georgia vs. New Mexico; 5 p.m., Consolation game: St. Bonaventure vs. North Texas.
Friday: New Mexico 81, North Texas 59; Georgia 84, St. Bonaventure 48
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

The final match that tickled the fancy of all Lobo fans and surely more than a few Yvonne Sanchez Lobos will take place at 7 p.m., Saturday in The Pit.

It's the undefeated New Mexico Lobos vs. the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs in the championship of New Mexico's Thanksgiving Tournament.

Er, maybe we should make that the No. 9 ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

The New Mexico Lobos rallied for an impressive 81-59 win Friday in The Pit over North Texas and Georgia swatted St. Bonaventure 84-48.

"I tried not to watch," Sanchez said of Georgia's stroll past the Bonnies. "They are good. They are impressive."

Of course, Sanchez has a key to slowing down a Georgia team Sanchez says is capable of reaching the Final Four this year.

"We might start six or seven (Lobos)," said Sanchez. "It's our home I think we can do that."

For sure, Sanchez will want to throw Deeva Vaughn and Jourdan Erskine on the court vs. the Bulldogs and hope those two Lobos can duplicate the numbers they threw up on North Texas. Vaughn had 23 points and Erskine pulled down a massive 18 boards.

"Jourdan is just an absolute monster," said Sanchez, who said her senior was coming off a bout with the flue. "No excuses for Jourdan. That's the kind of leadership Jourdan brings. She is always going to get rebounds."

The Lobos' win gives them a shot at a team expected to stay in the Top Ten most of the season. The Bulldogs probably have the edge in talent, but Lobos in The Pit can be a difficult beast to tame.

"We have to play our game. We can't be afraid of anybody no matter who they are," said Bryce Owens, who scored 17 for UNM vs. the Mean Green.

The Lobos also got double figures from Sara Halasz with 14. UNM pulled out of a tight 39-35 halftime court and pulled away in the second half with 57.1 percent shooting and much better execution on offense and in breaking the Mean Green press.

UNM's leading scorer, Caroline Durbin, injured her hand in the contest and only scored four points, but "we still have three people in double figures," said Sanchez.

UNM threw out a zone in the second half and it was effective against the shorter North Texas team. The Mean Green shot 25.8 percent in the second half as UNM outscored them 42-24 in the final 20 minutes.

"We had to run it (zone) because they are a good team and 22 (BreAnna Dawkins) just started driving and driving and driving," said Sanchez. "We went zone to mix it up a little bit.

"We're playing one of the best teams (Georgia) in the country that has a legitimate opportunity to go to the Final Four this year. It will really make an impact on our team and we're going to need everybody."

Said Vaughn of the opportunity to play Georgia: "It's very exciting. We just have to come out prepared and ready to play."

Second Half: New Mexico Lobos 42, North Texas State Mean Green 24

The Mean Green hit the first bucket of the second half, but UNM didn't flinch going up 46-38 on an Erskine to Vaughn layup. North Texas called time at 17:54. UNM went up 48-38 on a 15-foot jumper by Vaughn and at the 15:56 break the Lobos were up 48-41.

The North Texas press wasn't doing much early in the second half. UNM was breaking it quicker and running better offense. At the 13:01 mark, North Texas called time, down 54-42. At 9:00, UNM called a time out leading 58-48.

UNM pretty much pulled away at that point and went up 67-53 on a Jackson jumper and 70-55 on an Owens in-and-out trey. At 3:24, Shumpert scored inside with her left hand and UNM was coasting at 74-57. Not that a final dagger was needed, but a Halasz trey put UNM up 77-59 and the Lobos carried that count into a break at 2:39.

It was on to Georgia.

First Half: New Mexico Lobos 39, North Texas Mean Green 35

The Lobos went up 11-0 and 13-2 before the Mean Green stormed back to take a 19-17 lead. UNM did a better job with the North Texas press in the closing minutes to take the 39-35 halftime lead. UNM shot 45.5 percent in the first half as did North Texas. Both teams were 15-of-33 from the floor. UNM got 10 points from Vaughn and nine from Owens.

UNM went up 11-0 and 13-2 at the 15:36 break. UNM was shooting 71.4 percent at that mark and North Texas was 1-of-7 (14.3 percent). UNM also owned the glass, 7-to-1. The Lobos had five assists and five buckets.

Sanchez went to her bench and it didn't work out so well. The Mean Greene slowed UNM down with a zone press and forced the Lobos to run some offense off a shortened clock. UNM missed six shots and North Texas scratched back to 13-11 at the 11:23 break. The Lobos had five turnovers to one for the Mean Green.

At the 8:44 mark, the Green had a 17-all tie and Sanchez burned a timeout. North Texas grabbed its first lead of the half 19-17, but Vaughn hit a trey and UNM had a 20-19 lead at the 7:21 break. North Texas now had a better shooting percentage: 47.4 percent to 40 percent.

At the 4:57 media break, the Mean Green three-quarter zone press had created a few more turnovers and the count was 26-all. At the 3:32 mark, it was still knotted, this time at 28-all.

The Lobos finished the half with a nice stretch of breaking the press and getting some better looks. Erskine scored twice inside to help the Lobos to a 39-35 halftime lead. Mean Green's Braylah Blakely threw up a desperation trey just past half court and banked it in at the buzzer to form North Texas' 4-point hole.

Game One: Georgia 84, St. Bonaventure 48

The Georgia Bulldogs lived up to their No. 9 ranking by chewing up St. Bonaventure 84-48 in Game one of UNM's Thanksgiving Tournament. The Bulldogs ran to leads of 10-3, 21-7, and 41-20 at the half. It was pretty much over at that point, but Georgia outscored the Bonnies 43-28 in the second half to roll to the 36-point win.

Georgia had four players in double figures paced by Khaalidah Miller with 22 off the bench. The Bulldogs had 12 steals and had 21 assists to eight for the Bonnies. Georgia shot 60 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game. Georgia was 10-of-21 from 3-point range and 14-of-19 from the line.

The Bulldogs also got double-figure points from Tiaria Griffin (14), Jasmine James (12), Anne Marie Armstrong (11) and Merritt Hempe (10). Georgia got six boards apiece from Jasmine Hassell and Shacobia Barbee.