Stevens: Lobos Battle Two Enemies Saturday in The Pit

Feb. 7, 2013

Play4Kay/Think Pink Game Promotions - Saturday in The Pit:

The Lobos' game vs. UNLV supports both the Kay Yow Foundation and UNM Cancer Center and aims to raise awareness and donations for breast cancer awareness. The game will include many ways to help this great cause, including:

  • An auction in the north concourse with pink jerseys, signed posters and gift baskets of Lobo gear up for the bidding. It will begin before the game and run through the first half. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Kay Yow Foundation and the UNM Hospitals.

  • Donations boxes in the north concourse.

  • Recognition of New Mexico's breast cancer survivors at halftime.

  • Free strawberry milk from Creamland to fans exiting The Pit after the game.

  • $4 Tickets to the game are available for anyone wearing pink to the game.

    New Mexico Women's Basketball - Mountain West Road - In The Pit

    Saturday: 2 p.m. (MT), UNLV Lady Rebels (8-14, 4-4) at New Mexico Lobos (12-9, 4-4)
    On The Air: 610-AM KNML GameTracker, Game Story, Statistics

    By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

    The Lobos have a dual enemy Saturday in The Pit. On the court, they look for revenge against the UNLV Lady Rebels, who slapped down the Lobos in Las Vegas.

    It's the start of the second half of the Mountain West run and the Lobos ride a two-game win streak into the turn and are hoping to make a charge toward the top. The Lady Rebels have similar thoughts.

    The Lobos also are joining in a fight that carries beyond the court: the fight against breast cancer. The Lobos will take to the Bob King Floor on Saturday sporting pink jerseys in a game designated "Play4Kay/Think Pink Day."

    Kay is Kay Yow the former North Carolina State coach, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and lost her battle in January of 2009. The game is a fund raiser and the jerseys worn by the Lobo women will be put up for auction

    "There are a lot of women affected by breast cancer and a lot of people affected by cancer," said Sanchez. "Kay Yow made a difference in this battle. It's play for Kay.

    "It's really important that we let people understand that we realize the importance of their fight and acknowledge people who are dealing with cancer. If you live very long, you can't help but have friends or family. who have battled this disease."

    The Lobos will enter the game tied with UNLV in the Mountain West standing at 4-4. The Lobos are coming off a hard fought 72-67 win Wednesday night at Air Force. The Lady Rebels dropped a contest 72-66 in Vegas to league-leading Fresno State.

    The Lady Rebels are in exactly the same spot as the Lobos: looking up at Aztecs, Bulldogs and Cowgirls. But can they catch them?

    San Diego State and Fresno State top the Mountain with 7-1 marks. The Cowgirls are 6-2. It's probably safe to say the 2013 Mountain West champion will come out of that threesome in some form. The Lobos dropped games to all three and lost in The Pit to SDSU and Wyoming. A huge game Saturday has SDSU at Fresno State. That game is on CBS Sports Network.

    What the Lady Rebs and the Lobos are trying to do is make a charge, gain some momentum for the upcoming Mountain West Tournament - and improve. The Lobos improved at the tail end of 2012 and pulled a few upsets in the Thomas & Mack to reach the 2012 title game. UNM fell to SDSU and lost the league's automatic bid.

    The Lady Rebels look to be playing well at the end of 2013 because the athletic Rebs always have a chance in the Thomas & Mack, the site of the MW tourney.

    An important piece to the UNM puzzle stepped up at Air Force when transfer Antiesha Brown exploded for 26 points. Brown has battled a nagging injury and has lost some crucial court time since she did not become eligible until the second semester.

    Brown, and the Lobos, have eight more league games to polish up their act. Ditto for Vegas.

    The Lady Rebels will give UNM a chance to shore up an Achilles Heel that has plagued UNM for the past two seasons: turnovers. The quick and athletic Rebels pressured UNM into 27 turnovers in Vegas, a number Sanchez called "horrific." UNM is coming off a 20-turnover game at Air Force.

    Despite that high number of miscues, the Lobos came close to the win at UNLV. UNM doomed itself with a stretch at the end where the Lobos had seven turnovers in eight possessions.

    The Lobos also have been up and down as a rebounding team. They were outrebounded at Air Force. At UNLV, UNM won that statistical battle 36 to 32. UNM had the lead 57-56 with 2:39 to play. The Lobos never scored again as Vegas turned up the defensive pressure. UNLV finished on a 12-0 run.

    The Lady Rebels score at a 63.6 clip per game while UNM averages 59.4 points. The Lobos turn the tables on defense where they yield 59.7 points to Vegas' 68.3. The Lady Rebels lean heavily on Kelli Thompson and Alana Cesarz to generate offense. The talented Thompson averages 18.2 points per game, tops in the Mountain West. Cesarz scores 15.6 points per game. Caroline Durbin is UNM's leading scorer with an 11.8 average. Cesarz hauls down 7.1 boards per game.

    "They are going to get ball into the post (Cesarz)," said Sanchez. "Kelli Thompson is going to take a lot of shots and she is a very, very good player."

    Thompson and Cesarz obviously are valuable to the Lady Rebels and they top the Mountain West in minutes played with 36.4 and 36.8, respectively.

    The Lobos tried to run with the Lady Rebels in Vegas and part of that strategy was to wear the Rebs down. It might have worked, it almost worked, but UNM had those 27 turnovers. The Lobos might try the same strategy Saturday in The Pit.


    Probable StartersHTPositionSeason Statistics
    24 - Caroline Durbin 6-0Guard11.8 Pts. - 4.3 Rebs.
    44 - Deeva Vaughn 6-0Post9.7 Pts. - 5.1 Rebs.
    15 - Antiesha Brown 5-10Guard 9.2 Pts - 2.5 Rebs
    12 - Bryce Owens 5-4 Guard 7.7 Pts. - 4.0 Asts.
    14 - Jourdan Erskine 6-0Wing2.9 Pts. - 5.2 Rebs.
    Off The Bench HTPositionSeason Statistics
    20 - Sara Halasz 5-11 Guard 8.7 Pts - 4.6 Rebs.
    21 - Jayme Jackson 5-7Guard2.5 Pts. - 1.7 Rebs.
    13 - Khadijah Shumpert 6-0Forward4.5 Pts. - 2.9 Rebs.
    34 - Whitney Johnson 6-2Post5.4 Pts. - 3.2 Rebs.
    15 - Chinyere Nnaji 6-0Wing 1.2 Pts - 2.2 Rebs
    23 - Jordyn Peacock 6-2Wing 1.1 Pts. - 1.6 Rebs.
    25 - Brea Mitchell 5-10 Guard 0.7 Pts. - 0.7 Rebs.
    33 - Maddie Muraida 6-2 Post0.5 Pts. - 0.3 Rebs.
    11 - Alexa Chavez 6-0Forward 1.0 Pts. - 0.0 Rebs.

    Coaches: Yvonne Sanchez (head), Joseph Anders, Anthony Turner, Edwina Brown.