Lobo women outlast NMSU 54-53

Senior Lauren Taylor hit the second of two free throws with 32 seconds left and senior Porche Torrance swatted away a lay in by New Mexico State's Kaitlyn Soto with seven seconds to preserve a dramatic 54-53 over the Aggies Sunday at The Pit before a season-high 7,551 fans on Pack the Pit day.

With two seconds left in regulation the Aggies turned the ball over on the in-bounds following Torrance's block but turned the ball over and immediately fouled junior Jourdan Erskine, who missed both free throws but left the Aggies with nothing but a desperation heave at the end.

"It's a huge win because we've dropped three games by three or less points, it kind of gets to your psyche sometimes when you do that," said head coach Yvonne Sanchez. "Had we dropped this one, that "any given Sunday" speech kind of wears away after awhile. To get a one-point win in a tough situation like we were in, it speaks volumes. Hopefully they feel that everything is turning around."

Taylor came off the bench to score a game-high 13 points and Erskine scored 11 points and a team-high 5 rebounds in her first start of the season. Torrance added 10 points and added four rebounds for UNM.

A loss to New Mexico State (1-7) would have been especially galling since New Mexico (3-5) held a sprinted out to a 10-0 start to being the game and led by as much as 15 in the second half before NMSU broke out a full court press that paralyzed the Lobo women as they were unable to in-bound the ball, committing turnovers on 7 out of 10 possessions over a fie minute period just after the 10 minute mark of the second half.

"That's just our Achilles heel," said Sanchez. "We finally put a guard in the middle. One of the guards that was on the outside of the box finally flashed to the middle. It's still shaky, we still have to work on it.

"We expected the press," Sanchez said. "Erin did a great job on the scout. We worked on it, it was just that they put it in sporadically in the first half and we kind of broke it pretty easy. Then in the second half, we were up by 10 and we just kind of panicked a little bit. They also bumped up the pressure. We've got to solve it, that's our job as a staff."

Taylor said the team handled the press well in the first half but was caught unaware when the Aggies brought it in midway through the second half.

"When they first threw it on, it was kind of like 'whoa,'" she said. "We have problems with presses sometimes but we calmed down. We calmed down, got it to the middle and passed, passed, passed and got it through."

Erskine said the team needed to just "come together on the court and slow it down."

"We needed to get back to our game because we were going up and down, up and down," she said. :Instead of collecting ourselves, that was what we were doing. Once we just calmed down, and looked for each other, and ran our plays, that's how we found each other."

After the frenzied pace during New Mexico State's pressing, the Aggies took a 52-58 lead. But NMSU would get no closer as UNM settled down and the Aggies lost their leading scorer, forward Tabytha Wampier, when she picked up her fifth foul with 3:55 left in the game as NMSU peaked. The Aggies would not hit another field goal the rest of the way, scoring just one point on a free throw.

"When she fouled out, that really boosted us," said Erskine. "She was their key player and when they were all frazzled, we just saw that and collected ourselves and said 'Let's play our game.' That's what happened, we threw them out of theirs."

Wampier led NMSU with 11 points and guard Kaitlyn Soto added 10 point and a team-high four rebounds.

Both teams combined to score 47 points off turnovers, NMSU leading 25-22. The Aggies also outscored UNM in the paint 28-16  and got 30 points off the bench compared the Lobo women's seven points.

NOTES: Porche Torrance took over the No. 5 spot in UNM history in career blocks. Torrance came into today's game with 93 career blocks, tied for fifth place. She finished the game with five blocks, and is now seven blocks away from tying for fourth place and 10 blocks away from tying for third place.

·      Today's game marked the first all season that Caroline Durbin did not lead the Lobos in scoring. Durbin, who was addled by the flu, played 28 minutes and scored four points the Lobos.

·      UNM went with just a three-person bench again, with senior Nikki Nelson and junior transfer Deeva Vaughn both still sitting out with a bone bruise and concussion-like symptoms respectively. Coach Sanchez said both players are coming along ans should be available for next Saturday's UTEP game.

"Nikki felt good," said coach Sanchez. "She had kind of a light jog yesterday and today. She actually wanted to play but we kind of squashed that. I think that a couple more days doesn't hurt for that bone bruise to heal."

"Deeva was symptom-free of her concussion for the first time today," said Sanchez. "So the nice thing is that is step one. Step two is the stress test. Step three is the light contact. If she can pass all those she'll be able to play.

"I want those kids to be 100 percent," she said. "I say that with a smirk but I'm not going to mess with any kind of head injury. When she gets back, she gets back. Nikki has been through so much with her knees, I want to make sure she feels comfortable."

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