Open Announce

UNM Closes Out Non-Conference with Convincing Victory Over Miners

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The Lobo women’s basketball team took care of business in their final non-conference game on Sunday evening against UTEP, with another balanced scoring night and a stellar all-around performance from senior forward Shaiquel McGruder.

LaTascya Duff led the Lobos with 20 points, matching her season high with five three-pointers, with McGruder contributing 18 points, LaTora Duff 17 points and Jaedyn De La Cerda 11 points. Sunday’s game marked the third time this season that LaTascya has led the Lobos in scoring as well as her third game with 20 or more points.

Beyond just filing the scoring column, McGruder was a force all over the court, recording her third double-double of the season with a game-and season-high 14 rebounds (seven offensive), a game-high five blocks (tying her career high), three steals and two assists. In addition, it was her fourth game this season with 10-plus rebounds, her fourth game with multiple blocks and her eighth game with multiple steals.

LaTora tied Paula Reus with six assists for the team high, with Reus leading the team with a season-high four steals.

As a team, the Lobos finished with 10 three-pointers on the night, the sixth time this season that the Lobos finished in double figures, with LaTascya accounting for half and LaTora recording three to continue their streak of three-pointers. The Lobos also registered their best shooting effort of the season with 53.3 percent from the floor (32-for-60) and their second-highest three-point percentage of the season at 43.5 percent (10-for-23).

The Miners opened the game with the first five points before McGruder started an 8-0 Lobo run on a fast-break layup, with six of the eight points occurring on fast-break opportunities. UNM held a 21-4 advantage in the category in the game, with McGruder scoring 12 of her 18 points on fast-break chances.

LaTora hit back-to-back three-pointers to keep the margin at seven before UTEP whittled the lead to three with less than a minute in the first quarter. True to form in the first quarter, McGruder closed the quarter with a fast-break layup off of a LaTora steal as the Lobos held a 19-14 lead through the first 10 minutes.

Of UNM’s 19 points, 11 came from fast-break opportunities and LaTora led all scorers with eight points on two threes to go with two rebounds and two assists.

The Lobos extended their lead early on in the second quarter with Reus starting a 10-0 UNM run that pushed the gap to 29-16. The lead eventually stretched to 18 on a McGruder steal that led to a layup with 3:42 remaining in the half before the Miners brought it down to 13 points at the break at 38-25.

UNM outscored UTEP 19-11 in the second quarter behind five apiece from LaTascya and LaTora and an addition four points from McGruder. McGruder recorded three rebounds, two steals and a block in the second quarter to bring the senior forward’s halftime stat tally to eight points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. LaTora led all scorers through the first 20 minutes with 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting, nine of which came from behind the arc.

Through the first 20 minutes, the Lobos were shooting 51.6 percent from the floor while UTEP shot 34.5 percent and held a 13-0 advantage in fast-break points. Defensively, UNM recorded nine steals and forced 11 Miner turnovers in the first and second quarters and had three blocks (McGruder with two and Antonia Anderson with one) to zero for UTEP.

McGruder opened up the third quarter with four quick points on consecutive layups to stretch the lead to 17, however, UTEP answered with a run to close the margin to seven at 42-35 with a little more than five minutes remaining in the frame. LaTora steadied the momentum with a jumper, which led to a Reus layup, and a Reus steal and McGruder layup to push the lead back to double figures at 48-35. The teams traded three-pointers over the course of two minutes with the quarter ending with UNM ahead by 11 at 56-45.

McGruder and LaTascya led the Lobos with six points each in the third quarter, with McGruder also tallying two blocks and six rebounds (five offensive), and Reus added three assists.

UTEP twice got the lead down to single digits at nine in the early stages of the fourth quarter, but Anderson answered with a layup and a De La Cerda three-pointer kept the Lobos in front to the tune of 64-50. The Miners continued to find little spurts of scoring runs to cut the 14-point lead in half with 6:10 to play but LaTascya met the moment with a three-pointer to push the lead to 10 and an Anderson free-throw and McGruder putback extended the lead back to a double-digit margin.

The Miners made one final push to get the game to eight with under a minute remaining, but McGruder closed the door with a fast-break layup and LaTascya made both free-throws with 15 seconds remaining for the final points of the game and the 78-66 Lobo victory.

LaTascya stepped up for the Lobos in the fourth quarter with eight points, going 2-for-2 from three-point range and 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, while also recording a block, an assist and two rebounds.

With the win, UNM improved to 9-4 on the season and 7-0 at home heading into Mountain West play. The Lobos host San José State to open conference play on Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 2 p.m.