Monday, December 3, 2007
Aggies Demolish Streak
By Ken Sickenger
Journal Staff Writer
LAS CRUCES Streak obliterated.
After 22 consecutive wins over rival New Mexico State, the UNM women's basketball team got taken to the Pan Am Center woodshed Sunday.
The Aggies (5-1) outplayed the visiting Lobos (5-2) in nearly every phase particularly second-half shooting and rolled to a 58-42 win. It was the first women's basketball game played in the new Rio Grande Rivalry between the state's two Division I schools and NMSU's first win over New Mexico since 1996.
"They outworked us, outhustled us, outrebounded us and outexecuted us," Lobo coach Don Flanagan said of the Aggies. "They were certainly prepared for us and played a great game."
Fifth-year NMSU coach Darin Spence tried to play off the outcome as just another preconference victory. His players weren't buying it.
"I took four years of being whupped by (the Lobos)" said senior Sherell Neal. "It feels great."
New Mexico was unable to match the Aggies' intensity, and the Lobos had to wonder if numerous recent Pan Am Center renovations included rim-tightening.
UNM's shooting was, in a word, atrocious. The visitors shot 14.8 percent from the field in the second half and at one stretch hit only one field goal in a span of 23:39. Toss in 21 New Mexico turnovers and it was an entirely forgettable performance.
"I'd say either we had our eyes closed or that was just the worst shooting night ever," Flanagan said.
Adding to the pain UNM suffered, starting point guard Amy Beggin left the game late and was being checked for a possible concussion, Flanagan said. Beggin was the lone Lobo to shoot reasonably well, finishing with a game-high 16 points and hitting 5-of-9 from the field.
"She hit her head late in the first half and started getting headaches," Flanagan said. "She already had the black eye (suffered against Nicholls State) that's been bothering her and she started to get dizzy in the second half."
Remarkably enough, UNM went to halftime Sunday with a two-point lead. Several hundred Lobo fans among the crowd of 1,370 did their best to outyell the Aggies' faithful in the game's first 20 minutes.
Early on it seemed New Mexico's fans might have the last laugh. Beggin hit one of her three 3-pointers, Amanda Adamson added one and the Lobos led 11-6, hitting 4-of-5 field-goal attempts.
The hot shooting wouldn't last. Harassed in the half-court by the Aggies' hustling defense, the Lobos began to struggle to score. Brittany Henderson's three-point play started a 6-0 run to put the home team ahead 22-17.
In the first half, however, UNM matched the Aggies' defense. NMSU failed to score in the final 5:02 of the first half, Beggin hit a 3-pointer during a 7-0 run and the Lobos took a 24-22 lead to intermission.
"I thought they outtoughed us at the end of the first half," Spence said. "We talked about that at halftime."
The conversation paid off.
Henderson and Danielle Stevens went to work inside and sparked a 12-0 Aggies run to begin the second half. UNM didn't score for more than seven minutes and trailed by 15 points by the time its first field goal of the half, a Dionne Marsh putback, fell.
Marsh ended up with 13 points and 11 rebounds but was consistently double-teamed when she caught the ball.
"It was somewhat embarrassing," Marsh said. "We obviously came out unprepared. We have to be better than that."
Neal finished with 12 points, while Anikia Jawara added 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Aggies. Other than Beggin and Marsh, no Lobo managed more than three points.
"No excuses," Flanagan said. "(The Aggies) won the game and fairly easily. We'll just go back to work and try to do a better job when they come to Albuquerque (on Dec. 21)."
Friday: Norfolk State at New Mexico, 7 p.m. Radio: KNML-AM (610)