By George Hronich
For Enchantment Sports
Inside game and strong finish power the Lady Lobos over Fresno State, 82-73.
With a definite size advantage, the trio of senior posts Jaisa Nunn and Nike McClure along with sophomore Antonia Anderson scored 48 points to lead the Lobos in front of a season best “Pack the Pit” announced crowd of 8,068.
The first quarter started out with careless play by the Lobos making unwise passes and forcing wild shot attempts. That and three triples by Fresno State would lift the Bulldogs to an early 11-8 lead.
The opportune media time out allowed the Lobos to settle down and start clicking. Big three-point shots by Madison Washington and Antonia Anderson started UNM off and then McClure went to work in the paint and hitting shots and fueling a 15-0 Lobo run. Lobos would finish the quarter with a 25-14 lead.
The Lobos started off slow in the second quarter and the play of FSU sophomores Aly Gamez and Madi Utti cut the Lobo lead to two, 29-27.
UNM’s lazy rotation defense left Gamez open for easy open jumpers. Utti, who would finish with 14 rebounds, would score on offensive put-backs. The Lobos were outrebounded and Fresno’s work on the offensive glass was paying off.
Offensively, UNM emphasized the inside game, Lobo guard Jaisa Nunn, was constantly double-teamed allowing McClure and Anderson the opportunity to dominate in the paint.
Freshman Ahlise Hurst nailed a three extending the Lobo to lead to seven and the 40-34 half time lead. While most people noticed Hurst’s offensive output, it was her stellar work on the defensive end where she contributed to today’s victory- holding the Mountain West Conference leading scorer Candice White to four first half points.
UNM came out on fire to start the second half, quickly scoring seven points to take a 13-point advantage.
FSU wasn’t going away as Utti completed a three-point play, and White became more involved more Bulldog offense, scoring the next five points to cut into the Lobo lead.
Like previous games the Lobos were not able to hold onto double digit second half leads, as UNM became sloppy with in the passing department and poor shot selection- allowing Fresno St. to cut the Lobo lead to one.
The Fresno St. run woke up the Lobos as they finished the 3rd quarter strong. Antonia Anderson’s last-minute steal and coast to coast trip and score ended the third quarter with the Lobos up by ten, 64-54.
The fourth quarter started with teams trading buckets, as White and Nunn continued their strong offensive play. UNM just doesn’t seem to play well with a big lead as the Lobos missed a couple shots and committed a turnover and Fresno St. took advantage cutting UNM’s ten-point lead down to three, 69-66
However, as has been reminiscent of nearly every game this season, every time an opponent gets close, thinking they have a chance the Lobos go to work and dash the opposition’s hope. Leading 73-70, UNM once again did work, behind strong defense and another key three by Everett, the Lobos would score the next seven points to go back up by ten. A last second uncontested three by Gamez made the final 82-73 and another Lobo victory.
FSU’s Candice White, possibly the best player in the Mountain West, had a strong second half to finish with 22. Utti would add 15 points to her 14 boards.
For the Lobos, Nunn had another double-double finishing with 23 points and 13 rebounds. The double teaming on Nunn gave McClure and Anderson several open look; McClure made all seven of her shots for a season best 14 points and three blocks. Antonia Anderson scored 11 and added seven rebounds. Freshmen guards Hurst and Everett also hit double figures; Hurst with ten and Everett with 12 points and six assists.
Next up for the Lobos is a trip to San Diego to take on the Aztecs in a rare noon time game on Wednesday. They are having an elementary school day. In a tie for first with Boise State, the Lobos improved to 18-2 overall and 8-1 in MWC play.
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.