Stevens: Lobos Might Find Houston Fan Friendly in The Stands

Nov. 29, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women Basketball - at Houston

Friday: 6 p.m. (MT), Lobos at Houston Cougars - Hofheinz Pavilion

On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend; Live Stream/Stats at Game Story, Statistics

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

When it comes to the home-floor advantage, you have to give the edge to the Houston Cougars Friday night when Lobos come to run in the Cougars' Hofheinz Pavilion.

But when it comes to fans in the stands, well, maybe the 6-1 Lobos won't feel so lonesome on their first road game of the season. Hofheinz might be another home away from home.

"We're going to have a lot of family there," said Lobo Coach Yvonne Sanchez. "It's funny when you see film on Houston. There is this whole back arena with nobody there. I mean literally it's empty.

"I told our kids, `You're going to have to get used to that.' There might be 300 fans and 250 of them are going to be your fans. That's going to be neat.

"It's just different going on the road and playing in some of those places where they don't have any fans."

Yep, the Lobos might be hearing something they don't hear in The Pit: the echo of a bouncing ball. Or maybe a coach yelling on the sidelines? Houston averages 479 fans in their four home games. The pavilion holds 8,749.

In The Pit, 479 fans is a short line at the concession stand.

The Lobos and the Cougars met last year in The Pit and UNM rolled Houston 70-44. A few things have changed since that meeting. The Lobos return only one (Deeva Vaughn) of the four Lobos who led them in scoring in that romp. The Cougars have their best player back on the court for 2012-13.

"Their point guard is very good," said Sanchez. "She was out last year with an injury. She can shoot the three. She can take it to the basket."

That point guard is senior Porsche Landry, who has reached double figures seven times for the 3-4 Cougars. Before her injury last year in the season's third game, she averaged 22 points and had 37 vs. New Mexico State.

Landry, at 5-foot-1, won't be doing any posting up, but she does like to attack the rim with her quickness. She is one of four Cougars who have scored 1,000 career points with 300-plus assists. And she still has a year to play.

Landry paces Houston with a 16.4 average. She has only one teammate in double figures, 6-2 Yasmeen Thompson, who gives the Cougars a solid inside presence. Thompson averages 11.3 points and an impressive 11.6 boards per game.

Thompson is a transfer from Paris (Texas) Junior College and UNM needs to keep her off the glass. She had 17 rebounds vs. Alabama and 17 vs. Yale. She had 21 points and 14 boards against McNeese State.

The Philadelphia, Pa., native is also shooting 72 percent from the field, but has taken the fewest shots of Houston's six leading scorers.

The Cougars also like the potential of 6-foot guard Jessieka Palmer, who averages 9.1 points.

The Cougars lean to a seven-player rotation with that group averaging 17 to 32 minutes a game. The other six Cougars combine to average about 23 minutes total, off the bench. Houston opened the season with four straight losses, but ride a three-game win streak at the Lobos.

"They are very good this year," Lobo Sara Halasz said of Houston. "They aren't the same team as last year. They have an all-around game this year."

Landry is a big reason for that. She runs the show. She is a buzz saw defender and she can hit the trey. She has made eight of her last 15 shots from long range.

"Their guards are very good," said Sanchez. "We can't give up middle drives or foul. They love to penetrate.

"I like the road. I think the distractions are minimal. We're excited to get on the road."

The Lobos are led in scoring by Caroline Durbin with an 12.7 average followed in double figures by Halasz at 11.1 and Deeva Vaughn at 10.9. Jourdan Erskine is the top rebounder with a 6.3 average followed by Durbin at 5.7.

The Lobos' next game is Dec. 4 in The Pit vs. Cal State Fullerton.