10:00 PM ET, November 25, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- After a sloppy 20 minutes, New Mexico coach Don Flanagan was in no mood for pleasantries in the halftime locker room.No problem for the Lobos. Jana Francis scored 18 points, Dionne Marsh added 17, and Julie Briody had eight of her 10 points in the second half as No. 25 New Mexico beat feisty Marist 61-54 Friday night."We got in a little trouble at halftime for not playing very good defense, plus a couple other things," Francis said. "I think we came out in the second half with a better idea of what we needed to do to win."The Lobos (4-1), holding the Red Foxes (0-4) to 41 percent shooting, advanced to play for the University of New Mexico Thanksgiving Tournament championship Saturday against Oklahoma State, which beat Idaho 69-68 in an earlier game.Marsh scored 10 straight points as New Mexico extended a 32-23 lead just after halftime to 42-32 with 12:40 to play. After Francis got free for a layup, the Lobos led 44-32, and Marist coach Brian Giorgis called a timeout."It was just the flow of the game," Francis said. "They were getting the ball to us, and we were making our shots."Fifi Camara scored to pull Marist to 44-34, but New Mexico's Katie Montgomery made a 3-pointer. Giorgis was whistled for a technical foul for protesting when things turned physical, and Briody made both shots to give the Lobos a 49-34 lead with 10:11 to go.A few minutes later, Briody added a 3-pointer for a 53-38 lead with 7:24 remaining."That week of practice we had, we really went after each other really hard," Briody said. "Now that we're ranked in the Top 25, we really wanted to say that nobody's going to come into our house and beat us."But Flanagan wasn't happy despite a 27-19 halftime lead. New Mexico was messy to open the game, committing 10 turnovers, something the coach attributed to a week off since the last game -- a win at Texas that lifted the Lobos into the Top 25."I was not pleased with our defense," he said. "There was not enough effort down low. We were trading baskets. I don't really like that kind of basketball."The Red Foxes made a late run, cutting New Mexico's advantage to 60-51 after Kristen Vilardi made two 3-pointers and Courtney Kolesar added another. But it wasn't enough -- not after Marist missed its first 11 3-point attempts."We scored 34 points in the second half, so offensively we were fine," Giorgis said. "But if we didn't foul them, they got good looks at the hoop. They're so balanced, inside and out. We're usually good at helping and rotating, but that's hard against what Don runs."Camara, a first-team All-Metro Atlantic performer last season, finished with 18 points on 9-of-17 shooting, but she missed her first four shots and had only six points on 3-of-8 shooting in the first half.Vilardi and Sarah Smrdel each scored 10 points for the Red Foxes, who traveled across the country after losses to Connecticut, Villanova and New Hampshire.