Lobos resilient down the stretch; fend off SDSU
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team did not trail at any point of the Wednesday night game against San Diego State and had a lead approaching 20 points in the first half, but the Lobos were forced to show resolve down the stretch as they held off a furious second-half charge by the Aztecs to improve to 14-2 overall and 4-1 in Mountain West play.
The resolve of the Lobo women’s basketball team has not had to be put to the test too often this season with nine of their wins coming into the game being by double digits. On Wednesday night, however, in front of a crowd just shy of 5,000, the Lobos were put to the test late in the game, and they rose to the challenge.
With 3:30 to go in the fourth quarter, San Diego State, who at one point in trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and were down by 16 at the break, knotted the score at 62-all. It was the first time since the opening tip that the score was tied.
Immediately following that tying basket by the Aztecs (6-9, 1-3 MW) UNM called a timeout. On the ensuing possession, the Lobos (14-2, 4-1 MW) missed a shot, sending them into defense. On that defensive possession, Aisia Robertson came away with one her five steals in the game and finished on the other end with a fastbreak layup to give the Lobos the lead once more, 64-62 with 2:45 to play.
That exchange ignited Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit and the legendary venue suddenly became deafening as the Lobos went back to defense. That atmosphere provided a significant lift for the Lobos and it paid immediate dividends. On the ensuing possession, Jaisa Nunn blocked a shot by the Aztecs’ Naje Murray and then was fouled and split a pair of free throws.
Now leading by three with just over two minutes to go, the Lobo defense locked down once more and a three-pointer by Sophia Ramos drew iron. After getting the ball on a team defensive rebound, the Lobos came down the court and got the biggest shot of the game to fall from true freshman Ahlise Hurst as she drained a straightaway three-pointer to double the Lobo lead to six points, 68-62 with 1:34 to go.
Following that shot, the decibel level in The Pit continued to rise on each Aztec offensive possession. The Aztecs were unable to overcome that “sixth man” advantage that the Lobos possessed as SDSU was unable to score the rest of the way out, a scoring drought of 3:30. During that time, the Aztecs were 0-of-5 from the field (0-of-3 from three-point land) with one turnover.
Prior to the late-game drama, the Lobos were seemingly in complete control of the game, especially in the first half. In that opening 20 minutes of play, UNM shot 45% overall from the field (17-of-38) and were 50% (7-of-14) from the three-point line. Conversely, the Aztecs shot just 27% overall from the floor (9-of-33) and were 13% (1-of-8) from long range.
That script began to flip in the second half and especially in the third quarter. In that period, SDSU shot 47% and limited the Lobos to 31% shooting. That helped the Aztecs begin to climb their way back in to the game and eventually knot the score late in the fourth quarter, but after tying the score, SDSU was unable to score any more points, losing to the Lobos 70-62.
The Lobos had four players in doubles figures in scoring and were led by Aisia Robertson with 19 points. Robertson was 50% from the field going 9-of-18. She added eight rebounds, five assists, five steals, and three blocks. Jaisa Nunn was next in scoring with 14 points. Nunn also fell one rebound shy of a double-double. Jayla Everett scored 13 points and was followed by Madi Washington with 12 points off the bench.
UNM will now prepare to take to the road for a pivotal conference game at Wyoming this Saturday. Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 2 p.m.