|Posted February 16, 2010|
Pack lays egg against Highlands
New Mexico Highlands 62, CSU-Pueblo 49
LAS VEGAS, N.M. - The ThunderWolves entered Tuesday's game with New Mexico Highlands in an enviable position, arguably in charge of their own destiny in regards to hosting a playoff game and snagging an at-large bid to the NCAA D-II National Tournament.
And it all may have come tumbling down Tuesday night.
The ThunderWolves' shot for an at-large bid to the national tournament took a major league hit as the Pack shot just 29 percent and trailed by 17 at halftime, eventually falling 62-49 to the upstart Cowgirls at New Mexico Highlands University.
The Pack committed 17 turnovers in the game, a department the T-Wolves are usually strong, and seemed to not be able to buy a basket for most of the game. Only two ThunderWolves scored in double-digits while Highlands was able to sink 40 percent of its shots in controlling the game.
CSU-Pueblo, now at 15-9 overall and 11-5 in conference play, squandered their fragile position in the NCAA Division II Central Region rankings. The Pack was ranked eighth in the previous rankings, right on the bubble for nationals, as the top eight teams in the region make it to the big dance. The Pack expected to rise in the rankings after claiming a win over the region's third-ranked team, Adams State, Friday night at CSU-Pueblo. But Tuesday's loss against now 10-13 Highlands, the last place team in the RMAC West Division, may neutralize the Pack's shot at being ranked in the top eight. If the Pack doesn't finish the season in the top eight in the region, they ThunderWolves will be forced to claim the conference's automatic bid, going to the winner of the RMAC Shootout in March.
The ThunderWolves were also in charge of their own destiny to host a home playoff game to open the RMAC Shootout Mar. 2. The loss puts the Pack behind Adams State in the standings, giving the Grizzlies the upper hand to host that game.
The ThunderWolves will look to rectify the situation Saturday when it travels to Silver City, N.M. to take on Western New Mexico, a team that nearly claimed an upset win over the T-Wolves at CSU-Pueblo two weeks ago. The Pack's game against the Mustangs is their second in a four-game season-ending road trip.