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December 15, 2011

Little things cost Lady Lobos

The little things cost the Lady Lobos another win.

Playing hard. Shot selection. Blocking out.

UNM head women's basketball coach Yvonne Sanchez didn't see much of that in the Lady Lobos 61-54 lost to the Northern Colorado Bears in The Pit on Thursday.

"If we don't do the little things, we aren't going to beat anybody," she said.

UNM (3-7) had problems on both sides of the court. On one end, they couldn't make shots. On the other, they couldn't make stops.

"It's disappointing all the way around," said Sanchez. "I really didn't think we gave a good effort tonight. I thought we played lethargic."

That sentiment didn't seem to resonate with other team members.

"It's different from a player's perspective," said guard Lauren Taylor, who scored 12 points. "I am not going to disagree with coach, but it's different from a player's perspective. Especially those who were working their butts off and if there are mental lapses here or there, maybe some of us weren't there, but the team as a whole tried as much as we have any other time."

Offensively, the Lady Lobos looked unengaged for most of the game, passing the ball along the perimeter for most of the shot clock only to settle for mid- to long-range jump shots. That is a big reason why the Lady Lobos shot poorly for the second-straight game. In a 53-43 loss to UTEP on Dec. 10, UNM shot 25.5 percent from the floor. Against the Bears, the Lady Lobos shot 32 percent.

"We tried to get to the post in the first half and we were settling too much on jump shots," Sanchez said. "(The Bears) were switching matchups going on in the post to where there were guards guarding posts and we didn't do a good job of seeing that. Shot selection needs to be better."

Defensively, the Lady Lobos ran into a hot-shooting Bears team. Northern Colorado hit more than 65 percent in the first half to build a 35-25 halftime lead. It grew to 16 midway through the second before UNM stepped up its defensive intensity to get to within single digits.

"I was surprised with how well they were shooting," Sanchez said. "I knew how good they were. Watching them on film, I knew they were a good team."

Even when the Bears started to miss, the Lady Lobos couldn't make defensive stops. UNC scored 14 second-half points off 14 offensive rebounds. That's noticeable in a seven-point loss. Some rebounds were unlucky bounces, but several were from a lack of effort from UNM. In the end, UNC won the rebounding duel, 46-32.

"I think it was a mental lapse. Usually we are outrebounding the other team," said junior guard Jourdan Erskine, who recorded her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. "Tonight it just didn't happen for us. I know, personally, I forgot to box out quite a few times, so that helped them. I think we just need to get back to the fundamentals."

That's Sanchez's plan once the semester is over. Sandwiched around a four-day holiday break, Sanchez is planning a practice schedule full of the basics.

"We're going to work on the fundamentals during the break," Sanchez said. "And we're going to work on the little things. We can't get ourselves down and beat ourselves up. There is plenty of basketball left."

Following the 3-5 homestand, UNM hits the road for a pair before the holiday break, at Houston Baptist on Sunday and at Arizona on Dec. 21. They return to the road at visit New Mexico State on Dec. 30 before returning to The Pit on Jan. 2 against Houston.

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