Lobo women seek revenge on road
Feb 27, 2013 (Albuquerque Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Who wants to step in the ring for a shot at the defending champ
Despite suffering an early knockout last time they faced San Diego State in women's basketball, the University of New Mexico Lobos insist they're eager for tonight's rematch on the Aztecs' home floor, Viejas Arena.
After all, the Lobos argue, how much worse can it be
The Aztecs rolled to a 35-16 halftime lead over UNM last month in Albuquerque and were never really threatened in a 63-39 romp. The Lobos' top three scorers in that game combined for just one point more than the 21 scored by SDSU's Courtney Clements.
"We feel like we have a lot to prove after that one," New Mexico junior Deeva Vaughn said. "We didn't do anything very well."
On the flip side, the Mountain West Conference-leading Aztecs (21-5, 12-1) played that day like a team bent on defending its 2011-12 league crown.
"We played as complete a game as we've played all season when we went (to New Mexico)," SDSU coach Beth Burns said. "We played at a high level."
So, can the Lobos (14-11, 6-6) put a scare into the Aztecs this time around
"If you can take away their transition game -- which we're going to try like heck to do -- you've got a chance," UNM coach Yvonne Sanchez said. "If you start giving up breakaways and dig a big hole like we did last time, it turns into mission i m p o s s i b l e against that team."
With four games left in the regular season, the fourth-place Lobos would love to give t he A z t e c s something to think about. If the season ended today, UNM and SDSU would land on the same side of the MWC tournament bracket, meaning they could meet in the semifinals.
Just holding on to fourth place this week will be a tall order for New Mexico, however. It visits third-place Wyoming on Saturday.
"We've played well on the road," said Sanchez, whose team has won four straight games away from the Pit. "Obviously, playing two of the top three teams on the road is not going to be easy, but we're preparing to win. As tight as the standings are right now, these games could be very important."
Lobo freshman point guard Bryce Owens said she has not begun thinking big picture. She's focused only on playing better against San Diego State after going scoreless, with one assist and four turnovers, in the teams' first meeting.
"I just remember (Aztecs point guard) Chelsea Hopkins stealing the ball from me and scoring in transition," Owens said. "It's not a happy memory."
Owens conceded she may have been intimidated in her first battle with SDSU's senior star.
"I kind of backed down against her," Owens said. "She's the best point guard in the league, but I'm not going to play scared this time."
The Aztecs also feature one of the league's top shooting guards in Clements, giving SDSU a formidable one-two punch.
"I don't know if you can necessarily stop either one," Sanchez said, "but you've certainly got to get them out of their comfort zones. If you let Hopkins drive and give Clements open looks, you're in for a long night."
The Aztecs have put plenty of MWC opponents through long nights. Their scoring margin in league games is plus-16.2 points, and they're riding a 12-game winning streak.
Still, Burns does not want her players to let their collective guard down tonight.
"I think New Mexico is probably the fourth team in our league that I believe could win the (conference) tournament and could play beyond," Burns said. "This is a big game for us." Today
New Mexico at San Diego State, 8 p.m., 610 AM
How the Lobos and Aztecs match up
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