With a few days left for Christmas shopping, the Lobos were faced with a tough non-conference match up with Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (NAU). When fans look at the name Northern Arizona, their first instinct it is a easy win verses a cupcake, but that is the furthest thing from the truth as NAU is a good basketball team that returns most of the players that won the Big Sky Championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. This season NAU comes in to the Pit with a 7 and 4 record and lead by 6'2 Center Alyssa Wahl. On the flip side the Lobos come in winners of 8 in a row and boosting a 9 and 2 record, who are lead by senior Julie Briody.
Marsha and Briody
The Lobos started the game in a 2-3 zone on the defense, that didn't work as NAU hit a pair of three point shots. The Lobos tightened up their defense going on a 9 to 0 run of their own, and eventually controlling the first half.
Due to NAU pressure defense the Lobos looked confused and stood around a lot on the offensive side of the ball. " I felt like our offense was standing around," said Coach Flanagan. "They don't do that in practice (Lobos) they save it for the game." The Lobos were lead by Dionne Marsh with 10 in the first half and Julie Briody with 12. The Lobos went into the locker room with a 33 to 20 lead.
The second half started out with NAU game. They weren't going to back down. The Lobos had a comfortable 13 point lead when the tenacious NAU team went on an 11 to 4 run to cut the game to a 37 to 31 game early in the second half. Like I said, they are a tough team. Just like UNM's previous game vs. NMSU, tonight the Lobos struggled coming out of the gate in the second half. Not sure if the 1st half is to easy for them and they feel they can coast into victory or if the other team just comes out and gives their best shot early. Either way this is something that I'm sure is a concern to Coach Flanagan and something that needs to be worked out as conference play is looming.
Back to this evening's game. The second half was close with 2:20 left NAU cut the lead to 6, however, the next two possessions by UNM lead to a pair of free throws both times allowed the Lobo lead to be pushed up to10 sealing the deal for the home team 92 to 51.
The Lobos were able to hold off a very scrappy and good pressure team this will only help the Lobos come conference time. The key to victory was UNM going 27 for 30 from the charity stripe tonight. Three Lobos reached double figures tonight Angela Hartill with 10, Julie Briody led all scorers with 24 and Dionne Marsh scored 12, A little nerve racking that Dionne was held to only 2 in the second half.) How about Brandi "Rebounding Machine" Kimble as she finished the evening with 9 points and 9 rebounds tonight!
The Red Menace Player of the Game
I know, I know it is starting to sound like a broken record, but Julie as we said led all scorers with 24 points, to go along with 2 rebounds. When ever the Lobos needed a basket she was there and made some thing happen as she has all season long. Julie finished the evening going 9 for 9 from the free throw line tonight. For the Season Julie is Shooting 66 for 68 for an amazing 97% from the foul line.
@ # 3 Oklahoma, even with OU losing to #8 Ohio State, OU will be the hardest team UNM has played all season, " I watched the whole thing (OU v. OSU game) says Julie " they are very offensive oriented, they have a lot of great scorers, a good inside outside game. It's going to be hard to defend them, we are going to have to bring our "A" game." The game will be played on December 30, at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, not in Norman, OK