By George Hronich
For Enchantment Sports
After a frigid shooting day in a loss at San Diego Diego State on Wednesday, the New Mexico Lady Lobos bounced back in blistering fashion in the friendly confines of the Pit in front of an announced crowd of over 6,300 on Saturday. UNM made 19-of-26 first-half shots, including, going 5-of-9 from downtown for a a blistering 73 percent while Nevada shot 39 percent in an 85-74 Lobo victory.
The Lobos started the game with a quick eight-point run, three of the baskets coming off point guard, Aisia Robertson assists, setting the table for some easy looks for her teammates. Nevada committed a few early turnovers helping the Lobo cause. After calling an early time out, Nevada settled down and started running its offense better and senior guard Camariah King would hit a trey and score two more baskets to help cut the Lobo lead to five.
The Lobos (19-3, 8-2 in MWC) might have hindered themselves from growing a bigger lead, but committed four first-quarter turnovers. Nevada (8-13, 4-7), which plays a physical brand of ball and goes hard after rebounds, started getting several offensive boards as the Lobos continue to struggle in that area.
The Lobos hot shooting was infectious as sophomores Antonia Anderson and Jaedyn de la Cerda came off the bench and made jump shots to help give UNM a 25-16 lead at the end of one quarter.
The second quarter saw the Lobos come out hot again. After a Wolf Pack 3 cut New Mexico’s lead back to six, the Lobos went on a 15-4 run to to lead 40-26. Part of the run was a 10-0 spurt with Robertson again setting up her Lobo team with good shots. Robertson finished the game with 10 assists, and had a very good first half controlling the team offensively, not trying to force things that were not there.
Freshman Imani Lacy came off the bench and provided a spark for Nevada, cutting the Lobo advantage to 11 before senior Jaisa Nunn would score inside and freshman Jayla Everett hit a big 3 to keep UNM comfortably ahead; Everett had a big first half, scoring 15 of her 24 points. New Mexico led 47-34 at half.
Nevada came out shooting better in the second half, the Lobos committed some untimely turnovers and the Wolf Pack cut the deficit to eight just a couple minutes into the third quarter. Robertson, Nunn, and Anderson then asserted themselves offensively to build UNM’s lead back to 14. The Lobos field goal percentage cooled to 44 percent in the third quarter and the made only 1-of-7 from 3-point range. UNM did a better job on the glass, giving up only one offensive board in the third.
With a 64-53 lead going into the final ten minutes, the Lobos were unable to totally shut the door on a Wolf Pack comeback. Coach Mike Bradbury gave Robertson a breather to start the fourth quarter and the Lobo offense derailed a little. Nevada freshman guard Da’ja Hamilton hit back-to-back treys and New Mexico’s lead was down to five. Lacy, who would finish with 20 points, and fellow freshman Emma Torbert kept up their good inside play for Nevada.
On the other end, UNM was getting big buckets from Nunn and Everett as the teams traded baskets and the Lobos were able to maintain a six-to-nine point lead. A couple of big plays for the Lobos in the second half were athletic put-backs by Nunn and Anderson, Nunn’s basket coming late in the game resulting in a three-point play. And once again it was cool, smooth freshman, Everett hitting a key 3 to help keep Nevada at bay.
The Lobos had four players in double figures. Everett, with a game high 24, was followed by Nunn with 22, Robertson 18, and Anderson 11 with another strong game off the bench. Robertson added 10 assists and 6 rebounds.
UNM remains one game behind Boise State (18-3, 9-1), which won at San Jose State on Saturday, in the MWC race. Wyoming (6-3) and Fresno State (7-3). stayed on the Lobos heels as they both won today. UNM hits the road for its next two games, going to San Jose State 2-18, 1-8) on Wednesday night, followed by a tough rematch at Fresno State on Saturday.
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.