Stevens: It's Sanchez's Lobos vs. NMSU Aggies in The Pit

Nov. 19, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women's Basketball - In The Pit

Tuesday 7 p.m. (MT), New Mexico State Aggies at New Mexico Lobos
On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend & Nikki Heckroth

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

Sometimes you can over think athletic contests, matchups, strategies, etc. For Lobo Deeva Vaughn, the route to a Pit win Tuesday night over New Mexico State is simple enough.

"We need to play defense and win," said Vaughn.

Yeah, that would do it. Of course, the NMSU Aggies probably come into The Pit with a similar strategy. They know they have to stop Vaughn inside and UNM's trio of sharpshooters on the edge: Caroline Durbin, Bryce Owens and Sara Halasz.

And then there is that UNM depth thing. The Lobos might have a few players heading toward a headliner season, but so far a lot of Lobos have contributed a lot of good things at various points in a game.

Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez says the NMSU Aggies have more than a few talented bodies, too.

"We're two totally different teams (from last year)," said Sanchez. "He (NMSU Coach Mark Trakh) has depth now. We have depth now.

"It's going to be a tough game. It's going to be a grind-out game. They are very much improved. It's not going to be easy."

The Lobos come into The Pit undefeated at 3-0 with one of those wins an impressive put down of Texas Tech. NMSU is 1-1 with a 77-76 overtime win over Loyola Marymount in Cruces and a 43-41 loss at UC Santa Barbara.

Aggie Kelsie Rozendaal had 22 points and 11 boards vs. Marymount. Rozendaal is one of six returning letter winners from 2011-12. NMSU also adds USC transfer Stefanie Gilbreath and six other players who did not play last year. Gilbreath scored 11 at Santa Barbara.

Freshman Alexis Nelson set a 3-point season record at Aurora (Ill.) High with 60 in her senior year. The Aggies also added University of San Diego transfer, Danesia Williamson. Williamson had 19 points vs. Marymount.

Vaughn says she expects to pick up more than a few minutes guarding Rozendaal. "She is a driver, slasher," said Vaughn. "All of them like to drive and slash. We just have to worry about getting screened. We have to talk on defense."

Durbin paces UNM with a 14.7 average followed by Owens (11.7), Halasz (11.3) and Vaughn (11.0). Vaughn paces UNM on the boards with a 6.7 average followed by Halasz at 6.0.

Obviously, you give the Lobos the edge in The Pit behind their passionate crowd. But Sanchez says the rivalry factor also comes into play to provide energy for both teams..

"You just throw everything out," said Sanchez. "You throw records out. It doesn't matter. It's a rivalry game. They want to come up here and win. We want to beat them. It will be a lot of fun."

Said Vaughn: "When you have a rival game like this, you have a second burst of energy. It just comes out."

The Aggies' visit marks the second of four games the Lobos will play at home this week. UNM also will hold its Thanksgiving Tournament Friday and Saturday.

The Aggies will be a good test prior to that Pit tourney. They will not give the Lobos much problem in the height department and have a lot of talent on the perimeter.

"They run in transition a bunch. They get up and down the court," said Sanchez. "They run a lot of sets, sets screens for shooters. Their post players can shoot the three. Their guards can shoot the three. They just have a lot of weapons.

"We have to stop transition offense. We can't give them layups. We have to key on their shooters. They love to drive the middle."