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Lobos Hang Close in First 26 Minutes in Loss to No. 6 Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz.— The New Mexico Lobos went toe-to-toe with No. 6 Arizona for 26 minutes on Sunday afternoon at the McKale Center, before the Wildcats pulled away late in the third quarter for the eventual 77-60 final score.

Getting the starting nod, freshman Paula Reus had her best scoring outing of the season, leading the Lobos with a season-high 15 points and an efficient 7-for-8 shooting in the game, making her first seven shots. LaTora Duff was closely behind, hitting a couple of three-pointers late in the contest to finish with 14 points to go with four assists. It was the ninth time this season and the fourth-straight game that the senior has finished in double figures.

Antonia Anderson, Shaiquel McGruder and LaTascya Duff all finished with eight points and Jaedyn De La Cerda completed the scoring with seven points.

In addition, Anderson went a career-best 6-for-6 from the free-throw line as the Lobos went 11-for-13 from the line compared to 10-for-17 from Arizona. LaTascya and LaTora both also extended their three-point streaks, making it 14-straight games for LaTascya and 10 for LaTora.

Anderson led on the boards with nine rebounds and a game-high five assists, followed by a career-high eight rebounds for LaTascya.

The Lobos held it close with five ties in the first quarter, with New Mexico taking a 9-7 lead on a Reus layup and leading 11-8 with less than four minutes to play. A McGruder layup restored a 13-11 lead for UNM with 2:10 to play in the quarter and a LaTascya three-pointer provided the final points of the quarter and a tie at 16.

LaTora paced the Lobos at the point and with five points and Anderson accounted for two assists and a quarter-high four rebounds in the opening quarter.

Two made free-throws by LaTascya capped a 7-0 Lobo run that put UNM in front 20-16, but the Wildcats cut it down to one before taking a 23-22 lead. U of A led by four (28-24) with a little less than four minutes remaining in the half, to which a Reus jumper and LaTascya three eliminated the deficit and instead put the Lobos in front, forcing an Arizona timeout. The lead again changed hands with Arizona pulling ahead 35-29 before a Reus three-pointer with 28 seconds remaining brought the game to halftime at 35-32.

Reus accounted for nine of UNM’s 16 points in the second quarter, going 4-for-4 with an assist and a steal, with LaTascya scoring five, as the duo scored 13 and eight points, respectively in the first 20 minutes to lead the Lobos.

UNM held four of Arizona’s starters to three or less points in the first two quarters, with the Wildcats shooting 38.2 percent from the floor while shooting 41.4 percent, and kept the rebounding battle close at 20-18.

De La Cerda opened the third quarter with a layup to cut the margin to one, and after the Wildcats expanded the gap to six at 40-34, layups by Reus and De La Cerda brought it back to a one-possession game. Following two made Anderson free-throws that made it 44-42 and a defensive stop, the Lobos had a chance to re-claim the lead, but missed the three-pointer preventing UNM from doing so. From there, Arizona went on a 9-0 run to stretch the lead to 11 at 53-42 and held a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter at 57-45.

Anderson and De La Cerda both scored four points to lead UNM in the quarter, with a late three from LaTora and another made basket by Reus on her only attempt to conclude the scoring.

Arizona led by 16 before the Lobos made a run of two free-throws and a LaTora three to cut it down to 11 with 4:29 left. It was the closest UNM got in the remainder of the contest.

LaTora added six more points in the fourth quarter on two three-pointers to put the point guard into double figures.

The difference in the second half was three-pointers, with the Wildcats making seven of 15 attempts compared to 4-for-10 for UNM. Arizona attempted a season-high 36 three-pointers, making a season-high 13, having entered the game with a previous season high of 24 attempts and an average of 6.8 three-pointers per game. UNM’s seven made threes in the game tied the most by an opponent against the Wildcats this season, tying North Dakota State. The field-goal percentage also flipped with UNM shooting 34.6 percent in the final two quarters compared to 41.2 percent for Arizona.

However, the Lobos finished with the highest shooting percentage allowed by Arizona this season, shooting 38.2 percent from the floor.

Up next for UNM: The Lobos (8-4) host UTEP on Sunday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. in their last non-conference game.