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Lobos come up short in clutch

Cougars’ prowlice from beyond the arc overwhelms UNM

UNM’s inability to contain the outside shooting of Brigham Young University and lack of clutch plays down the stretch hurt in its 79-72 loss Saturday night at The Pit.

UNM had trouble containing the Cougars’ guard-oriented offense all night. The tandem of Erin Thorn, Stacy Jensen and Julie Whetten combined for 58 of the team’s 79 points.

“That is a great scoring team,” assistant coach Ed Wyant said. “They have some great guard play.”

Thorn scored the first points for BYU on a 3-pointer, a theme that would continue for the rest of the first half.

Coming into the game, BYU was hitting 39 percent of its threes, which ranked it at 13th in the country.

The team had no trouble proving it could hit the three, sinking 10-of-15 shots from 3-point land in the first half, including eight-of-10 at one point.

The farther the Lobo perimeter players went out to defend the three, the farther the Cougar players shot from behind the arc.

Several of the 3-pointers were from beyond the line, making defending the perimeter very difficult. Thorn, in particular, amazed the crowd as each 3-pointer she made was farther than the previous one.

“They have some really good shooters,” senior Nikki Heckroth said. “They were hot. Every team that comes to play us seems to play their best game and that was the case tonight.”

For the game, the Cougars shot a blistering 12-of-23 from 3-point range for 52 percent.

Thorn, an All-American as a freshman last year, finished five-of-nine from 3-point range, including four-of-five in the first half.

Point guard Jensen hit three of four shots and reserve Whetten contributed two threes.

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Heckroth said she did not think the team’s defense played well against the perimeter players of the Cougars.

“There is no excuse for us allowing them to get that many 3-point shots off,” she said. “Defensively, we need to get tougher. We had all week to prepare, there is no excuse for it.”

The threes helped the Cougars build several double-digit leads in the first half.

In the second half, the Lobos could never get over the hump and take the lead.

Every time the Lobos cut the lead to two or three, a UNM mistake or a sucessful shot from BYU would take away the momentum.

The Cougars then would build the lead back up to seven or eight points before the Lobos made another attempt to overtake the Cougars.

After junior Molly McKinnon hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to two midway through the half, Thorn answered with an assist and a pretty fall-away jumper on the baseline.

The Lobos cut the lead to two again with 7:25 left on a pair of McKinnon free throws. The Cougars answered right back with five straight points.

“Any time we got within four or five points they would hit a big shot,” Wyant said. “They picked a fine time to hit shots. They stepped up when they needed to.”

UNM’s biggest mistakes came in the last minute of play . The Lobos cut the lead to one, but the team chose to foul. UNM fouled BYU’s best player, Thorn, with one minute left instead of trying to get a defensive stop.

“We should have just played defense, blocked out and got the ball back,” Wyant said. “But we had our 22 red zone defense in, which is to foul right away, but we did not yell out not to foul. Put that blame on us.”

Then the Lobos had two straight turnovers. Thorn stole a Heckroth pass for a break away layup and McKinnon threw the ball away on the next possession.

“We, me in particular, didn’t take care of the ball and a couple of other people didn’t either,” Heckroth said. “So it’s going to hurt you.”

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