Stevens: Erskine, Lobos Looking To Finish Out Strong

Feb. 22, 2013

New Mexico Women's Basketball - Mountain West - In The Pit
6 p.m. (MT) - Colorado State (9-15, 5-6 MW) at New Mexico Lobos (13-11, 5-6 MW) - Bob King Floor
On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend & Nikki Heckroth-Lobato Game Story, Statistics, Photo Gallery, Quotes

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

For senior Jourdan Erskine, the countdown to her exit from The Pit is down to three. If Erskine has her druthers, the Colorado State Rams will be a victim of her fury - and her relaxation -- on Saturday night.

I need to relax and finish out the season strong," said Erskine, who always plays with fire, but doesn't always have the stat production she seeks. "I want to look back with no regrets and know I gave it my all.

"I worry too much about certain things. I think too much about things I just need to let go."

Erskine's last go-around with the Rams in Fort Collins was not an example of how Erskine wants to go out. She had two points. She had five boards. She played ten minutes in a solid 68-54 Lobo road win.

It was a curious game for Erskine and the other UNM starters as only Bryce Owens reached double figures (12) while adding 10 rebounds and seven assists. The UNM bench was more the hero in that Mountain West win as Deeva Vaughn came off the pine to score 15 and Sara Halasz had 14 points.

The Lobos won the game with defense holding CSU to 38.3 percent shooting and did it with rebounding winning that board battle 46-24. These are things that Erskine usually does well and this time it is her chance to come off the bench to help her team.

Of course, Erskine and the Lobos are looking forward to winning in The Pit for the loyal UNM fans. "We have to have a good showing at home," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez.

After CSU, the Lobos have home games with Nevada and Air Force and then it's on to the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas.

The Lobos are on a curious run. They have won a program-record four consecutive Mountain West road games, a string started with their win at CSU. They also have lost four straight league games in The Pit.

Coach Sanchez and her Lobos don't look at any game as a guaranteed-win night, but if you beat CSU by 14 in Fort Collins, you should win in The Pit. The Lobos also have beaten every team below them in the MW standings and have lost to every team above them.

Technically, the Rams are on the same level as UNM. They come into The Pit with a 5-6 mark which matches UNM's league record. UNM is 13-11 overall and CSU is 9-15, 2-9 outside Fort Collins.

Erskine said she came to UNM because of The Pit and the "family feel" of the team. "Before they recruited me, I'm not sure I knew New Mexico existed," she said. "When I visited and saw The Pit and our fans, I fell in love with it."

The Rams of Fort Collins have something that Erskine wouldn't mind seeing in Albuquerque - white stuff.

"If it's going to be cold, we should have snow," said Erskine. "I love the snow."

Erskine's introduction to basketball came from a Michigan family with a love of hoops and an older brother, who played high school ball.

"We had a court in our subdivision and everyone would go over and play," she said. "I think I was the smallest one out there. I think they let me chase the ball for them when it got away."

Erskine grew up with a background in softball, volleyball and basketball and played volleyball and basketball throughout her high school years at Saginaw Heritage High. "Volleyball was an outlet from playing basketball all year round," she said.

Erskine said she was quiet and shy in high school. "I was just very focused on sports," she said. "I wasn't the best student, but I would get things done when they needed to be done."

In a way, that's Erskine's and UNM's attitude for the Rams and for the five games remaining in UNM's regular season. There are things to be done and Erskine and the Lobos need to start doing them - now.

"Everyone is kind of jumbled in together in the middle," said Sanchez. "So, having a good run these next five games could separate us into maybe getting maybe that fourth or fifth spot. The third spot would be tough. You have those top three teams playing well."

The Mountain West crown probably will go to San Diego State with its impressive 11-1 mark. Fresno State at 9-3 and Wyoming at 8-4 are battling for the No. 2 and No. 3 seed. The Lobos need to build some momentum for a charge at the MW tourney in Vegas. The sooner that momentum comes, the better. UNM could be looking at a first-round battle with UNLV with the winner playing San Diego State.

"They (CSU) are playing with a lot of confidence," said Sanchez. "We are all in that same range. It's us Colorado State and I think UNLV is in there. We are all pretty much the same."