By George Hronich
For Enchantment Sports
Sophomore guards came off the bench to spark New Mexico to a 70-58 victory over CSU on Saturday in the Pit.
This time, 3-point shooting would be the key on Saturday afternoon in Dreamstyle Arena as Colorado State used its length and strength to play an effective zone defense verses the Lobos.
Shots weren’t falling for starting freshmen guards Ahlise Hurst and Jayla Everett, and UNM coach Mike Bradbury was forced to call upon sophomores, Madi Washington and New Mexico native Jaedyn de la Cerda, to step-up. Indeed they did.
The sophomore duo would combine for 6-10 on three pointers in the first half while the rest of the UNM team was a frigid 1-10.
The Lobos had plenty of open looks from behind the arc as the CSU zone was extremely effective in the paint. The good news is that as frigid as the Lobos were shooting, CSU wasn’t much better.
Offensively the only points early came on an early bank-in 3 by CSU as the shot clock was winding down, and an old fashioned three-point play by Jaisa Nunn.
In comes Madi Washington, and she immediately sparks the Lobo offense hitting a long three. Her three was followed up by a conventional three-point play by junior PG Aisia Robertson helping the Lobos finish with 14-10 lead after the first quarter.
The Lobos cold shooting weren’t the only issues. as they committed five first -period turnovers, trying to force passes inside the tight CSU zone defense.
The second quarter was a little bit more offensive by both teams with CSU increasing their shooting performance from a paltry 17% first quarter to a more respectable 50% in the second. While that looked good for the Rams, they only were only able to get up 10 shots as the Lobo defense forced six turnovers. Coach Bradbury’s Lobos were able to get a handle on the ball in the 2nd quarter committing only two turnovers. UNM also imposed their will on the boards with nine offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities.
CSU struggled with the Lobos’ athleticism as rather than battle for their own offensive boards sent all five of their players back on defense to cut down on UNM’s fast break opportunities.
With de la Cerda and Washington shooting a hot 5-7 from behind the arc, outrebounding the Rams, and a tough defense, the Lobos went into the locker room with a 36-26 halftime lead in front of an announced crowd of 5809.
The Lobos started the third quarter exactly the way they finished the second. UNM came out hot from three-point range as Washington, de la Cerda, Robertson and sophomore Antonia Anderson forced CSU to widen their zone and giving post Jaisa Nunn room to go to work in the paint as she would score six of her 14 total points in the third period as the Lobos raced to a 48-31 lead.
The Lobos looked to be cruising to another home victory, when they got sloppy. A couple traveling calls started a plague of seven turnovers in a short span. CSU would take advantage of UNM’s undisciplined play, as their three-point ace Molly Mounsey started hitting shots and cutting the deficit to 52-39 at the end of the third quarter.
Neither team took a dominant lead going into the final period as they went back and forth for an exciting finish. The Rams would cut the lead to eight, but the Lobos would respond and push it back to 12.
It was the defense of UNM that gave the Lobos another victory Saturday afternoon. Ahlise Hurst put the clamps on CSU’s Mounsey, as Mounsey wasn’t able to score in the final ten minutes. Meanwhile in the paint senior Nike McClure blocked three shots and held CSU’s leading score Lore Devos to 10 points total as she went 4-12 from the floor.
Washington led the Lobos with 15 points on her five treys and also snagged six rebounds, her best game this season. Nunn would finish with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Along with her 3 blocked shots McClure pulled down 12 rebounds and chipped in 6 points. Robertson had 10 points, 8 rebounds and five assists. The Lobos would make 11 treys, shooting a higher percentage from behind the arc than in the paint against the CSU zone and eventual 70-58 victory
The Lobos move to 13-2 on the season, 3-1 in MWC play. UNM is tied with Utah State for third, as the Lobos are a game in the loss column behind Boise St. and Fresno St., who are undefeated in league play. Next up is a young San Diego St. team visiting The Pit Wednesday night. The Lobo men play in San Diego Tuesday night, so without a mirror schedule UNM is hoping to see a good crowd.
George Hronich, a longtime fan and close follower of the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team, is covering the squad this season for Enchantment Sports. If you have any feedback, tips or story ideas for George, please email him at EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.
Enchantment Sports’ Fan-Demonium is a place for sports fans to share their thoughts. Fan-Demonium pieces are the opinion of the author only, and not necessarily of Enchantment Sports. Interested in submitting something? Email enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com. All pieces must include your real name, and we must be able to contact you and verify your identity.