Lobos Edge Out Broncos for MW Opener Win
BOISE, Idaho— The Lobo women’s basketball team closed 2021 and opened Mountain West play in thrilling fashion with a 72-68 win over Boise State on Friday afternoon at ExtraMile Arena.
Led by Shaiquel McGruder’s 19 points, 16 by LaTascya Duff that included a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range and 13 points from Jaedyn De La Cerda, the Lobos outscored the Broncos 18-13 in the fourth quarter and held the Broncos scoreless for the final 2:58 for the win.
Antonia Anderson had a game- and career-high five steals, accounting for five of UNM’s 13 in the game as six different Lobos recorded a steal. Beyond her scoring, McGruder had a game-high three blocks, tying Boise State’s team total.
UNM held a 13-2 advantage over Boise State in steals and forced 21 Bronco turnovers, compared to a season-low six for the Lobos.
While BSU held the rebounding edge 50-23, the Lobos were able to capitalize on the Bronco turnovers, converting the turnovers into 25 points and 18 fast-break points.
LaTora Duff contributed a game-high seven assists, a team-high seven rebounds, eight points and a steal.
Of note, the win was just UNM’s third all-time win in Boise and the first win in Boise since 2016. Friday’s win also snapped a four-game losing streak to Boise State that dated back to 2018. The Lobos are also now 5-1 in conference openers under Coach Mike Bradbury.
In addition, Boise State entered the contest having won 11-straight conference home openers.
UNM scored the first six points of the game on layups by Anderson and McGruder and a McGruder jumper before Boise State got on the board and used a run to tie the game at eight. However, a McGruder free throw and a LaTascya three-pointer in transition off of an Anderson steal regained the lead for the Lobos midway through the first quarter. The Broncos cut it down to one twice before taking the lead at 17-14 and held the lead through the end of the quarter at 19-16.
McGruder and LaTascya paced the Lobos with five points each in the opening 10 minutes, with Anderson starting off the game with three assists and two steals.
The Broncos scored the first five points of the second quarter to build the margin to eight points, but the Lobos responded with a 6-0 run behind a Reus layup, and a De La Cerda layup and jumper. Boise State again built back up the lead, this time to six at 35-29 with 2:30 to play in the half, however, LaTascya kept the Lobos in it with two three-pointers for the one-point deficit at the break, 36-35. The deficit could have been greater, but a Bronco half-court shot was waived off after review to keep it a one-point game.
LaTascya added nine points in the second quarter on perfect 3-for-3 shooting from behind the arc and De La Cerda broke into the scoring column with four points. LaTascya’s three-point streak extended to 16 games on Friday.
UNM had four steals in the second quarter with McGruder credited for two and Anderson and LaTascya recording one apiece.
LaTascya led all scorers with 14 points at the half, the only player in double figures, going 5-for-6 from the floor, and was the only Lobo who made a three in the first 20 minutes. McGruder was second on the team with seven points and Reus scored six of her nine points in the first two quarters.
McGruder opened the third quarter with a layup to put the Lobos back in front, as UNM scored the first eight points of the third quarter to take a 43-36 lead less than three minutes into the quarter. Between the end of the second and the 7:22 mark of the third, the Lobos had an 11-0 scoring run to build their biggest lead of the game.
However, Boise battled back to cut the lead to one at 46-45 and again at 50-49 before taking a 51-50 lead with 2:25 left in the third. The lead again changed hands following a McGruder jumper, and proceeded to alternate three more times through the remaining of the quarter with Boise State ultimately leading by one, 55-54, at the end of the third.
McGruder scored six points in the third with two blocks, as the Lobos shot 53.3 percent from the floor compared to 38.9 percent by the Broncos.
The fourth quarter continued to be a battle, with New Mexico scoring the first four points of the fourth to take a 58-55 lead before Boise State tied the game and pulled ahead 60-58 on free throws. De La Cerda tied the game with a layup and proceeded to hit back-to-back three-pointers for her own personal 8-0 run for the 68-64 Lobo lead.
The Broncos responded to tie the game at 68 with 2:58 to play, but the Lobo defense held tough throughout the remainder of the contest and the Lobo offense converted at the free-throw line, scoring four points at the line for the difference in the game.
After De La Cerda and Reus both split a pair of free-throws to keep it a one-possession game, crucial rebounds by Reus and De La Cerda kept the Broncos one-and-done. LaTora knocked down a pair of free throws with 23 seconds remaining and an Anderson steal in the waning seconds secured the road victory.
De La Cerda took over in the fourth quarter with nine points to go along with two rebounds, an assist and a steal, and McGruder closed with six points on 3-for-3 shooting from the floor with three more rebounds and a block.
UNM scored five points off of turnovers and six points on fast-break opportunities, while holding the Broncos to zero in both categories.
In addition, there were three ties and three lead changes in the fourth quarter in a game that had 12 lead changes and four ties. UNM led for 22:11 of the game with Boise State leading for 15:22.
The Lobos improve to 10-4, 1-0 in the Mountain West and have a short turnaround, hosting UNLV on Monday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.