New Mexico (10-19) trailed by as much as nine points in
the second half
after leading 31-28 at halftime.
“I’m so proud of these young ladies,” said first-year
head coach Yvonne
Sanchez. “They've had so much adversity throughout the year,
together. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong and
matter. I told
them the entire
season for my first year, I wouldn't want to coach any other
team, and I feel
that way today.”
UNM lost both regular season meetings against the Lady
Rebels, but on
Wednesday the Lobos started with a 5-2 flourish and battled
closely in the
first half before taking a 26-19 lead with 3:52 left in the
first half. UNLV
would rally but the Lobos held the advantage at half time.
“You know, we had a little bit of a different game plan
senior guard Nikki Nelson. “UNLV is really good and they did
twice. We were
hungry for it. Tournament
time is always exciting because anything can happen. So our team was just ready. We came out hard and we fought. It turned out for us this time.”
The Lobos would fall behind then use three-point
shooting to come back
against UNLV (22-9) in the second half, hitting 5-of-11 treys
after going a
perfect 3-for-3 in the first half.
“I think (the three-pointers) were extremely important,”
Porche Torrance. “We were down by nine, I think. I just told my teammates to keep fighting,
we're still in
this. We had eight
or nine minutes
Lauren and Caroline,
they stepped it up, shot the ball well.
We feed off that. The
helped us out a lot.”
In the second half, the Rebels erased the UNM lead
within the first few
minutes and eventually peaked at 54-45 at the 8:07 mark.
Nelson, who scored 14 points, hit all four of her
consecutively in UNM’s game-clinching rally.
Torrance scored a game-high (and season-high) 20 points
and pulled down
11 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season. Juniors
Caroline Durbin and Lauren Taylor each added 12 points and Durbin pulled
UNM shot 21-for-52 (40.4%) for the game and 8-of-14
(57.1%) on three
pointers as well as a terrific 11-of-15 (73.3%) from the free
UNLV shot just 2-of-12 (16.7%) on treys and 23-of55
(41.8%) from the
field for the game. The Lobos also outscore the Rebels 14-8 on
turnovers and 15-12 on second chance points.
As usual, the Lobo women were cheered on by a large
contingent of UNM
fans, something Torrance said helped the team.
“It's a blessing to have all the fan support that we
have here at UNM,”
Torrance said. “ Without them, all the adversity we've been
through, ups and
downs, they stuck by our sides.
really truly appreciate that because we feed off their energy. That helped us out a
UNM advances to Friday’s semifinals at 2:35 pm PST, where they will
play six-seed Boise St. which beat 3-seed Colorado State 68-63 Wednesday night.