Stevens: Sanchez's Lobos Seek To Rebound By Not Letting Colorado Rebound

Dec. 28, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Women Basketball - On The Road

Saturday: 2:30 p.m.; New Mexico Lobos at No. 23 Colorado - Boulder
On The Air: 610-AM KNML with Joe Behrend GameTracker, Game Story, Statistics

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/

What are the odds of another Lobo basketball team going on the road and knocking off a ranked, unbeaten team on that team's home floor?

One thing is for sure: Coach Yvonne Sanchez and her Lobos will take to the Coors Events Center in Boulder, Colo., clutching at least two goals that helped Steve Alford's Lobos knock off No. 8 Cincinnati on Thursday:

1. Be in the game at the end and try to scratch out the upset.
2. Take to the floor believing you can win.

"We have to get in there and have the mindset that we are going to win the basketball game," said Sanchez. "If we get ourselves in a position at the end (to win), then you always have a chance and that's what we want."

Like it was for the Lobo men, this upset will not come easy. The Colorado Buffaloes are undefeated at 10-0 on the season and ranked No. 23 in the nation. The Buffs have won 23 straight non-conference games and are averaging 73 points per game.

The Buffs have a statement win over No. 8 Louisville and also are having their way with Mountain West teams. They pounded an athletic San Diego State team, 67-53, beat Wyoming 68-59, and crushed Colorado State 72-46.

That brings up a couple of other Lobo goals.

1. Don't let the Buffs run up the score.
2. Keep them off the boards.

Colorado runs a structured offense, but still can light up the scoreboard thanks to shooting 48 percent inside the 3-point line and thanks to averaging a whopping plus-14 on the boards. The Buffs shoot only 29 percent from long range. When they are hot from the outside, they are very, very potent on offense.

"They run their offense very well," said Sanchez. "They aren't very complicated, but they are very talented. They have very good players. The biggest thing for us is to make sure we know player responsibility, make sure we know shooters and drivers -- and box out like crazy."

Said Lobo sophomore, Antiesha Brown: "It's all about preparation, executing and playing our scout (scouting report). If we go there and play hard, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't win. "

The Buffs average 18.1 offensive rebounds a game and are No. 8 in NCAA Division I with that plus-14 rebounding edge. Colorado has a plus-21 rebounding margin over the past four games. They had 59 rebounds vs. Colorado State for a plus-33 edge over the Rams.

"We have to box out like crazy. We have to make sure they only get one shot," said Sanchez. "Their post players are awfully good and we have to make sure we don't get stuck behind them. We have to get around and deny, and make sure our help on the weak side is there.

"We have to make sure we guard their dribble penetration."

The Buffaloes have two pairs of identical twins on their roster: Brenna and Meagan Malcolm and Ashley and Brittany Wilson.

The Buffs are paced in the scoring department by 6-foot-1 forward Arielle Roberson with a 15.5 average. She hit 25 in a win at Illinois. She is No. 2 on the team in rebounding with a 6.0 average. She shoots 52 percent from the floor.

Colorado returns all-around, All-Pac-12 guard Chucky Jeffery, who averages 12.3 points, 8.2 boards, 2.3 steals and 4.3 assists. It is important for UNM to contain Jeffery. Jeffery is the "dribble penetration" that Sanchez wants to stop.

This crafty, 5-10 point guard is the straw that stirs the Buffs' offense. She was the ESPN Women's National Player of The Week after averaging 18 points, nine boards and 4.5 assists in wins over Denver and Louisville.

Junior guard Brittany Wilson has been hot of late and has paced Colorado in scoring in the past four games with a 13.5 average over that span. Wilson is good from long range and deadly at the free-throw line. Jen Reese, a 6-2 forward, averages 10.5 points and 5.8 boards. CU usually starts 6-foot-4 Rachel Hargis at center. She leads the team in blocks with 12.

"Personnel wise, we match up very well," said Sanchez. "I think our size matches up with them. I think our guards match up with them."

The Lobos bring an 8-4 mark to Boulder and are coming off a 60-45 loss at UTEP, a game much closer than the score. UNM is on the third leg of a five-game road swing.

"This (traveling) is good for us because we are doing it when school is not in session," said Sanchez. "Being on the road is fun, the players bond a great deal. To go on the road and play a very good Colorado team, it is going to be a fun game with a good atmosphere.

"It's right after a men's game so more people might stay, and that will be fun for our kids."

Said Brown: "It's easy to play here in The Pit because we have thousands of people showing up. I think our road wins are what counts the most, especially beating a ranked team. I think that would really boost our confidence."

The Lobos average 61 points and yield 55 points, so it is important not to let the scoreboard light up too many times. UNM can help this cause by containing the Buffs' Jeffery.

UNM is led by Caroline Durbin with a 12.9 average which is boosted by her 47 percent shooting from 3-point range. Jourdan Erskine tops UNM's rebounding charts with a 6.3 average and freshman Bryce Owens averages 4.3 assists and 8.6 points per game.