Lobos eliminated from MWC Tourney by SDSU

UNM's Khadijah Stumpert

The 5-seed New Mexico Lobos knew what was coming in their semifinal game against top-seeded San Diego State in the semifinals of the 2013 Women's Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas, Nev. But UNM was unable to keep the inevitable from happening, as SDSU jumped out a big early lead on its way to a dominating 67-39 win.

"They're really good at jumping on you early," said Senior Caroline Durbin. "I think they did the same thing against Nevada yesterday.  They did it by getting out and running.  They have everyone sprinting the floor as hard as they can.  That's tough to guard.  And they find each other really well."

Coach Yvonne Sanchez said the Aztecs keeping SDSU in check early was a point of emphasis of the Lobos – one they were simply unable to pull off.

"That's the biggest thing we said, is they can't get loose early," said Sanchez. "They're notorious for doing that.  They jumped on us right away."

UNM's poor shooting early was exacerbated by a UNM's tentativeness on offense, said Sanchez.

"We backed down a little bit, were on our heels," said Sanchez. "Those are the things we talked about (coming into the game.) That's what championship teams do, not necessarily on offense, they started it with their defense. That's what they're known to do."

New Mexico was paced by Khajiijah Shumpert, who scored eight points and Antiesha Brown, who added seven points and led the team with five rebounds. Senior Caroline Durbin faced double teams for much of the game and was limited to four points on 1-7 shooting.

SDSU finished with three players in double figures and were paced by guards Courtney Clements, who scored a game-high 15 points, and Chelsea Hopkins' double-double – 14 points and 14 rebounds.

The Lobos trailed 29-13 at halftime but were able to make the game a little more competitive in the early parts of the second half by keeping SDSU in a half-court offensive set and keeping the Aztecs from taking the same breakaway opportunities they had in the first half.

But San Diego State eventually shook loose and was able to pus the lead up to 21 points with 11:03 left in the game and would lead by 30 points before UNM finished the game with a Brea Mitchell lay up on the game's final play.

Sanchez said she saw a few positives, including the relative equality in rebounding numbers as well as fewer turnovers by her team.

"We've had 29 turnovers against them (this season," said Sanchez. "So they're a very good defensive team. Again, you have to credit San Diego State and their defense and their schemes.  It's nothing that you don't know.  But once you still get into it, it's easier said than done.

 "Play with poise.  Play with heart.  I think our kids did that.  But we had to attack the basket early and take it at 'em.  And we just didn't do that."

The loss likely ended the Lobos season, which saw the team finish with a 17-14 record and an 8-8 mark in MWC play.

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