By George Hronich
For Enchantment Sports
In a game billed as “Field Trip Day,” it was a very unpleasant outing for the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team on Wednesday (Feb 6) in San Diego.
The Lobos were frigid from the field, and were upset 61-59 by San Diego State in a game that very well could drop the Lobos from any consideration for an at large bid to the NCAA tournament. The game had a noon tipoff with many local schools busing students to Viejas Arena.
It started out all right for New Mexico (18-3, 8-2), which shot 8-for-16 in the first quarter and led 18-13. SDSU (8-12, 3-6) committed eight turnovers, but the Lobos gave it back five times and did not take full advantage of Aztec miscues to build a larger lead. Asia Robertson scored the first five Lobo points early in the game, but only made one of twelve shots the rest of the game. Despite the turnovers, SDSU shot 45 percent in the first quarter to keep the game close.
Senior post Jaisa Nunn started the second period of play by converting a three-point play play after the Aztecs hit a 3, keeping the Lobos in front by five. The turnovers continued for both teams in the second quarter with the Lobos giving it four times and the Aztecs five.
The shooting woes also started for the Lobos in the second quarter, as they only made 4-of-17 shots and were 0-for-7 on 3s. Several fouls were also starting to be called against the Lobos, sending the Aztecs to the line and sending junior PG Robertson and senior post Nike McClure to the bench with three fouls apiece.
SDSU was able to go on a small run to tie the game at 23 and the half ended with the teams tied 28-all. The Aztecs also only hit four field goals in the quarter, but two of those were treys. With the Lobos being whistled for fouls, SDSU also went to the line nine times, making five of those. Some of the fouls were not good fouls as they were in the back court or away from the basket.
In his post game interview, Lobo coach Mike Bradbury was not happy with the fouls and said he addressed it in the locker room at halftime. But UNM came out with some of the same fouls starting the third quarter. McClure and Robertson each picked up their fourth fouls and had to sit a good portion of the second half.
The Lobos’ cold shooting continued as the team went 5-of-19 in the third period, and they went 0-for-7 again from behind the arc. The Aztecs, meanwhile made seven field goals, including going 3-for-6 from deep.
Behind the spark of sophomore Jaedyn de la Cerda off the bench scoring five points, the Lobos were able to cut an eight-point Aztec lead to one. The rest of the period saw the Lobos go stone cold again and SDSU went into the fourth quarter with a 47-40 lead.
After trading buckets to start the fourth quarter, SDSU hit another trey to build a 10-point lead. After a time out with about seven minutes left in the game, Bradbury changed defenses from man-to-man to the 2-3 zone that gave the Aztecs problems a couple weeks ago in the Pit. The zone seemed to cause SDSU some problems, and behind Nunn and freshman guard Jayla Everett, UNM cut the lead to 54-50.
But the Aztecs responded with a 3 from sophomore Naje Murray. The lead would stay at five and seven points for the next couple minutes before the Lobos made one final push. Free throws by Nunn and Everett sandwiched by an Aztec field goal cut the SDSU lead to 61-59 with 31 seconds left.
With 15 seconds left, SDSU committed its 19th turnover of the game to give UNM one more shot at a comeback win. Bradbury called timeout and drew up a play wanting Everett to get a 3-point attempt. Bradbury said the play was not run correctly, but SDSU was keying on Everett as she has been a late go-to player for UNM. Unable to get a 3 off, Everett drove the base line and in traffic missed the jump shot to give the Aztecs the upset victory.
One of the questions to Bradbury on the post game was what happened and his answer was we didn’t try hard enough throughout the game and talked a little about unwise fouls that put the Lobos in foul trouble.
Some key stats for the game; three point shooting was a big one. The Lobos, who have been shooting a good percentage in conference, went 3-26 while SDSU was 8-17. After going 8-16 in the first quarter, UNM was only 14-53 the rest of the game. Nunn went 10-17 and made all seven free throws she attempted for a game high 27 points; she also added 11 rebounds. Antonia Anderson went 3-4; everyone else went a combined 9-49 for 18 percent.
The Lobo ladies will try to right themselves as they host Nevada Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. There are many $5 tickets for the game. The promotions are for the girl scouts and cancer awareness. Girl scouts and up to three people with them can get in for $5 each. Wearing pink for the cancer awareness also lets fans in for $5.
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.