Lobo women enter MWC play with hope

UNM's Sarah Halasz

After starting the season 5-0, the New Mexico Lobo women's basketball team closed the month of November with a losses to a nationally ranked Georgia team and an up-and-coming Houston squad book-ending a win over Weber State. The Lobos then went 2-3 in December to close their non-conference schedule before heading into Mountain West Conference play at UNLV on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

The Lobos then went 2-3 in December to close their non-conference schedule before heading into Mountain West Conference play at UNLV on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

The Lobos women entered December with a record of 6-2 with a three-game road trip to close the year looming. Here's a short recap of UNM's exploits in the final month of 2012.

  • UNM 52, Cal State-Fullerton 43: The Lobos made just 1 of 7 three pointers but shot 20 of 47 (42.6%) overall to take down the Lady Titans in The Pit. No Lobos scored in double figures, but UNM got scoring from nine of 11 players. Sara Halasz led the Lobos with nine points while Bryce Owens added eight and Jourdan Erskine added seven points and eight rebounds.
  • Arizona 58, UNM 53: The Lobos came up just short against the Wildcats of the Pac-12, cutting a 32-26 halftime deficit to a single possession before U of A pulled away at the end with a pair of treys at The Pit. Halasz scored a team-high 12 points while Caroline Durbin and Whitney Johnson added nine points each. Erskine again led the Lobos in rebounding with seven for the night.
  • UNM 68, New Mexico St. 44: In the return game of the Rio Grande Rivalry in Las Cruces, dominating the Aggie women even more than they did in The Pit a month earlier. The Lobos ran out to a 39-22 halftime lead and never let up to beat NMSU. Durbin led the Lobos with 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 6 on threes. Halasz added nine points and transfer Antiesha Brown added eight points off the bench in her first action as a Lobo.
  • UTEP 60, UNM 45: At El Paso, the then 10-1 Lady Miners ran away from the Lobos in the second half, extending their 26-21 lead with a late rush to brush off the game but out-matched Lobos. Durbin again led UNM with 16 points while Deeva Vaughn came off the bench to nearly tally a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
  • No. 20 Colorado 84, UNM 39: The undefeated Lady Buffaloes showed their pedigree early on, never trailing and building a 39-21 at halftime before salting away the game with a 21-4 run to open the second half. The Lobos' effort was doomed by 25 turnovers and 30% shooting. Brown came off the bench to score 10 points to lead the Lobos while Vaughn added nine points.

 

Going into conference play, the MWC is not highly regarded – ranked 14th among the 31 NCAA Division I conferences. As was the case last year, only the MWC tournament winner may garner an NCAA invite as only two MWC teams – Wyoming and San Diego St.  – are ranking in the RPI top 60.

Not coincidentally those two teams top the MWC as the teams enter conference play, the Cowgirls standing at an impressive 10-2 but with no wins in the top 135 RPI.

At 8-4, the Aztec women have two wins over top 100 RPI teams – versus 11-2 Auburn (RPI 87) and at Cal Poly (RPI 97).

UNM stands behind UW and SDSU in terms of wins and only Fresno State (7-5) and Boise State (6-6) have non-losing records. The rest of the league is a combined 13-37 with UNLV, Colorado St. and Air Force all far from .500 (Air Force has just one win this season, over independent Cal State Bakersfield (2-14).

So the Lobos appear to be in good shape coming into their MWC opener at UNLV in a week. The team is undoubtedly looking forward to the new year to wipe away the losses that closed 2012.  

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