New Mexico focused its defensive effort on
Thompson, the leading scorer in the MWC in the regular season, and
was able to
take advantage of the Rebels short bench and their own team’s
depth to grind
out the win.
“I think we wore them down a little bit,” said
Durbinn, who scored 17 points and had six rebounds. “We were able
to get rid of
the jitters we had. We were able to be aggressive and play our
Brown came off the bench to lead all scorers
with 21 points
on 4-9 shooting and a perfect 10 of 10 from the free throw line.
added 13 points for UNM and Deeva Vaughn registered a
double-double, scoring 12
points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
Thompson scored seven points for UNLV, harassed
into one of
her worst shooting days of her career – 2 of 14 from the field and
1 of 6 from
“We took Kelli Thompson out,” said head coach
Sanchez. “That was our game plan. We were face guarding her. The
person on her
had no help responsibilities.”
The Lobos trailed just 7-6 lead early but UNLV
took a 17-6 lead after engineering a 10-0 run that was capped by a
jumper at the 10:58 mark of the first half. But New Mexico
responded with a
14-3 run of their own fueled by the play of Brown and Vaughn to
tie the game at
20-20 with 4;31 left in the first half.
UNLV battled back to tie the game at 24-24 with
left in the half but Durbin sank a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers
to send the
Lobos into halftime leading 30-24.
“It felt really great,” said Durbin of making
the two shots.
“I mean, it almost felt like the end of the game. It just got us
on a roll for
the second half.”
The Rebels opened the second half on a 7-2 run
capped by a
three-pointer by Thompson to cut the Lobo lead to 31-32 with 17:50
left in the
second half. But UNM responded with another run, reeling off six
points for a 38-31 advantage two minutes later.
With Thompson mostly neutralized, UNLV
struggled but was
still able to muster a last charge, cutting the UNM lead to 60-57
left in the game. But the Lobos closed out on the free throw line,
percent of their freebies to take the game.
“They did a nice job of that,” said Sanchez of
performance at the free throw line. “That has to continue for
performance because obviously San Diego State is not too bad. But
it’s a good
performance and it’s a good focus for our kids.”