Early scoring run propels Lobos past Indians

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- It's not likely Katie Montgomery will find herself in New Mexico coach Don Flanagan's doghouse -- not the way she's playing this season.

Montgomery scored 15 points, had four assists, four rebounds and four steals and once again did all the little things that carried the No. 18 Lobos to a 70-57 win over Louisiana Monroe at the Lobo Shootout Friday night.

On a night when Flanagan found plenty of room for improvement for the Lobos (7-2), he praised the play of his point guard.

"She played a heck of a game. I'm not disturbed at Katie at all," Flanagan said. "She was the key out there. She kept things running well defensively. She blocked out like some of my other players didn't."

Montgomery hit 5-of-8 shots and hit a couple of 3-pointers to run her team-leading total of 3s to 23. She is shooting better than 50 percent from behind the arc, having made 23 of 45.

"She needs to shoot more," Flanagan said. "She passed up a couple of open 3s."

Dionne Marsh also scored 15 points for New Mexico and the Lobos used an early scoring run that Louisiana Monroe couldn't overcome.

"The first five minutes we lost the ball game," said Louisiana Monroe coach Mona Martin. "We didn't make good decisions and every time we made a bad mistake, they capitalized on it."

New Mexico hit nine of its first 14 shots and never trailed. The Lobos used an 11-0 run to pull away to a 24-9 lead. The Lady Indians (4-3) trailed by as much as 22 points (55-33) in the second half, but cut the deficit to 11 by scoring nine straight points. Michelle Biley's basket with 9:23 left got Louisiana Monroe within 57-46.

LaJeanna Howard scored 13 points and Melanie Williams 11 for the Lady Indians, who stayed in the game by hitting eight 3-pointers.

"They have not shown that they're a good 3-point shooting team and yet they hit eight of 21 against us," Flanagan said. "And they outrebounded us 15-11 on the (offensive boards). I'm not happy with that. That's not good enough."

Montgomery's three-point play late in the first half squelched a brief rally by the Lady Indians. Back-to-back 3s by Renata Dorsey cut the New Mexico lead to 36-24 with a 1:39 left in the first half.

New Mexico got the ball in Montgomery's hands, who drove the lane, hit a bank shot and was fouled. She hit the free throw and teammate Timi E-Nunu added a free throw moments later to give the Lobos a 40-26 lead at the break.

Flanagan substituted freely after New Mexico built its early lead and four players finished in double figures. Abbie Letz scored 12 and Julie Briody had 10 points.

But Flanagan was not pleased that his team failed to maintain intensity for 40 minutes.

"We ran our offense a little bit better until about 12 minutes to go and then it wasn't very pretty," Flanagan said. "We got real casual in the second half and I was disturbed by that. Maybe it was too easy in the first half."

"We let them back in and let up on defense," Montgomery said. "We can't do that against the better teams."

New Mexico scored 36 points in the paint.

"A lot of those were in transition," said Martin, "especially early in the game."

New Mexico will play North Dakota State in Saturday's championship game. North Dakota State (3-3) beat Creighton 68-63 in the other first round game Friday.