Strong defense, balanced scoring lead to 78-57 win
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – After nearly two full weeks since the last time The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team took to the hardwood, the Lobos showed little signs of rust in their Mountain West opener against Air Force on Wednesday night. In the game, the Lobos combined strong defense and balanced scoring to work past Air Force by a score of 78-57 inside Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit.
The win marks the second time in as many years that the Lobos (11-1, 1-0 MW) have begun their Mountain West slate with a win over Air Force. Last season, UNM knocked off the Falcons (4-8, 0-1 MW) 88-59 on the road. It is also the Lobos’ 10th-straight win this season and is the second-straight year that they have put together a winning streak of at least 10 games.
On Wednesday night, the Lobos maintained a modest lead through the first quarter with their largest advantage being eight points on two occasions. The Falcons would not lead at any point in the game, but were able to tie the score at 12-all with 3:03 to go in the opening quarter. After that, UNM carried a four-point lead into the second quarter.
— New Mexico Lobos (@UNMLOBOS) January 3, 2019
In that quarter, the Lobos separated themselves and out-scored the Falcons 17-9 to take a 12-point lead, 37-25 into the locker room. Helping gain that separation was defense as the Lobos limited the Falcons to 29% shooting (4-of-14) with five blocks and forced Air Force to turn the ball over nine times. During the period, the Lobos would grow their lead out as large as 16 points before taking the aforementioned 12-point lead at the half.
The Lobos then maintained that double-digit lead throughout the third quarter and led by as many as 20 as Aisia Robertson converted an and-one opportunity at the 4:56 mark. In the waning seconds of the third quarter, Ahlise Hurst buried one of the Lobos’ two three-pointers in the game as she beat the buzzer to give the Lobos a comfortable 15-point lead, 57-42.
The fourth quarter was much of the same for the Lobos as they cruised to a 21-point victory. It is the seventh-straight game that UNM has won by double digits and the sixth time in that stretch that the margin of victory has been 20 points or more.
For the game, the Lobos had three players in double figures and were led by Jayla Everett with 19 points. Aisia Robertson was next with 15 points and Jaedyn De La Cerda followed with 11 points off the bench. The Lobos also had four other players score five or more points to add to the balanced effort. Topping that second wave of scoring was Shaiquel McGruder as she scored a career-high nine points. McGruder also narrowly missed a double-double as she had nine rebounds.
Defensively, UNM forced a season-high 30 turnovers and came away with a season-high 19 steals. The Lobos also totaled nine blocks. It was the fourth time that the Lobos have had nine or more team blocks in a game.
Offensively, the Lobos did a majority of their damage inside as they had 54 points in the paint.
The Lobos will now hit the road for their next two games. The first of those is a game at Nevada this coming Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. Mountain Time.