Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Look To Rebound Vs CS Fullerton

Dec. 3, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women Basketball - In The Pit

Tuesday:7 p.m.; Cal State Fullerton Titans at New Mexico - Bob King Floor
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By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

If Lobo Coach Bob Davie happens to glance at the scheduling tactics of Lobo women's basketball, you couldn't blame Davie (of the no-bye week) for being a bit jealous and maybe muttering the word: "Genius."

Maybe the New Mexico women's schedule is coincidental, maybe not. Just check out the thinking here:

1. Yvonne Sanchez's Lobos loses to the Top Ten Georgia Bulldogs and then turns around and plays a winless Weber State team that rode into The Pit on one of the longest losing streaks in the nation.

2. Sanchez's Lobos take their first road trip and get spanked at Houston and return to play at home against a Cal State Fullerton team that just handed winless Northern Arizona its first win of the season. Yeah, that's the same NAU team that lost to UNM in The Pit. The Titans come into The Pit on a four-game losing skid.

Now, this is the type of scheduling a young team needs when rebuilding. In a way, it's perfect. You get a severe test followed by a potential confidence booster.

But it's only perfect if the Titans fall Tuesday night in The Pit.

Of course, NAU was no pushover in The Pit and the 2-5 Titans aren't exactly a cupcake like Weber State. But they do represent a good chance for the 6-2 Lobos to get back on the winning side of the ledger prior to maybe a tougher game Saturday in The Pit vs. Arizona.

The Titans are coming off a heartbreaking 55-54 loss at home to the NAU Lumberjacks. Titan Alex Thomas drove the lane in the closing seconds and her layup rolled off the wrong side of the rim. Fullerton was paced by Kathleen Iwuoha with a career-high 14 points.

Sanchez returned from Houston not happy with her Lobos' defensive efforts in that 77-62 loss and the Titans represent a team that can be disrupted by solid defense. Consider:

  • The Titans scored only 54 points at home against an NAU team that gave up 68 to UNM.

  • The Titans had only one player in double figures, Iwuoha with 14.

  • The Titans shot 28.6 percent at home, going 4-of-18 (22.2 percent) from long range.

    Obviously, if the Lobos throw out a stellar defense effort in The Pit, the Titans could be in trouble. But Cal State Fullerton does do some things well.

    Against NAU, the Titans ruled the boards, 48-28. That 20-board margin kept them in the game as the Lumberjacks shot a sizzling 47.6 percent from the floor. You shoot that well, you usually romp.

    The Titans also had an amazing 31 offensive boards vs. NAU which resulted in 20 second-chance points.

    Coach Sanchez has several goals during a game, but one main goal is to win the rebound battle. The Titans are plus 4.6 on the season off the glass and average almost as many offensive boards (20.7) as they do defensive boards (22.6). The Titans have 145 offensive boards to 86 for their opponents.

    That glass battle will be a key in The Pit.

    The Titans also need to shoot better, if they plan to pull an upset on the Bob King floor. Fullerton averages 33 percent shooting from the floor and gives up an average of 41 percent.

    The Titans are coming off an 11-19 season in which they went 4-12 (8th) in the Big West. They lost their star and leading scorer from 2011-12, Megan Richardson, who had a 16.1 average. They have struggled so far this season trying to find a consistent offense or a consistent offensive threat.

    The 5-10 Iwuoha and the 6-foot-1 Mya Olivier are the two returning starters, but the Titans' two double-figure scorers coming into The Pit are Chante Miles, a quick 5-3 guard, at 13.3 and 5-9 Tailer Butler at 10.3.

    Olivier proved last year she can be a monster on the boards (7.4 average), but is only averaging 13.4 minutes a game in 2012. She averaged 29.6 minutes a year back.

    Iwuoha carries an 8.4 scoring average and hauls down a team-leading 6.6 boards a game. Iwuoha had more offensive boards than defensive ones. Olivier averaged 8.8 points a year ago and Iwuoha hit at a modest 5.7 clip.

    The Lobos average 42 percent from the floor and bend to a 36 percent on defense - not bad. The Lobos average 42.6 boards a game and yield a 34.0 average.

    UNM is paced in scoring by Caroline Durbin with a 13.3 average followed by Deeva Vaughn at 11.3. Sara Halasz just dropped below double figures at 9.8 and Bryce Owens is approaching double figures at 9.9.

    UNM is paced on the glass by Jourdan Erskine at 6.4 and Halasz at 5.4. UNM is shooting only 60 percent from the free-throw line. The Lobos are limiting opponents to a cool .231 percent from long range while hitting .343 percent of their treys.