LaTora Duff's Career-High Night Leads Lobos Past Falcons
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Behind a career-high 25 points by LaTora Duff and an added 19 points by Jaedyn De La Cerda, the Lobo women’s basketball team battled to a 72-57 win over Air Force on Wednesday night.
De La Cerda led the way the first two quarters with 13 points for New Mexico, while Duff took over in the final two quarters with 16 points. It is the 16th time this season that a Lobo has scored 20-plus points in a game, the second time for Duff.
As a team, the Lobos shot 52.7 percent from the floor, with 23 points coming on fast-break opportunities and 32 points from within the paint. UNM was nearly equally effective from three-point range, shooting 50.0 percent with seven three pointers, three of which were by De La Cerda.
LaTascya Duff also had a memorable night, playing all 40 minutes and finishing with 10 points, including two three-pointers. Of note, Duff has now made a three-pointer in 28 consecutive games, breaking the program record. Duff also joined De La Cerda with six rebounds for the team high.
In addition to rebounds, De La Cerda also led with three assists, while LaTora led with three steals.
Like LaTora, Paula Reus became an offensive catalyst in the final 20 minutes, scoring 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting, to go along with five rebounds and a block for the fourth Lobo to finish in double figures.
The score was tight early on before the Falcons gained a slight edge at 9-4 at about the seven-minute mark. The Duffs started the comeback, first with a LaTora layup off of a defensive rebound followed by a LaTascya fast-break layup off of a defensive rebound to pull within one. The Lobos pulled even at 12 with a LaTora turnaround jumper with 2:42 remaining in the first, and the Lobos continued to score the next four points of the game on a De La Cerda layup and Antonia Anderson jumper for the 16-12 lead at the end of the first.
UNM closed on an 8-0 run, holding Air Force the final 4:42 without a basket. Scoring was balanced among the Lobos with three players scoring four points (LaTora, Anderson and De La Cerda), with LaTora adding two assists and a steal.
The Lobos opened up the game at the start of the second quarter, using an 8-0 run to take a 10-point lead at 24-14, capped by LaTascya’s first three of the game. Air Force climbed back within four with an and-one at 4:26, but the Lobos answered on other end with a De La Cerda corner three-pointer. The Falcons again responded to close within three, but again, UNM had an answer, this time with back-to-back three-pointers by LaTora and De La Cerda to provide a nine-point cushion at 33-24 with under a minute left. The Falcons made a three-pointer as the quarter came to a close, but the Lobos led by six at the break, 33-27.
Of UNM’s 17 points in the second quarter, De La Cerda accounted for nine of them with a perfect 3-for-3 shooting from three-point range. The Lobos were 5-for-5 from three in the second quarter, and were 5-for-8 (62.5%) from three in the first two quarters.
De La Cerda led all scorers with 13 points at the half, while LaTora was nearly in double figures with nine points.
Air Force scored the first five points of the third quarter, ultimately taking a 36-35 lead halfway through the quarter. However, LaTora pushed the Lobos back in front with a layup and added another layup on the following New Mexico possession for the 39-36 Lobo lead. After the Falcons cut the game to one with two minutes left, the Lobos closed with a 9-1 run with two free throws each by LaTora and Anderson and Reus closed the quarter with a three-pointer and a fast-break layup for a 48-40 Lobo advantage at the end of the third.
LaTora scored eight points of UNM’s 15 points in the third quarter, followed by five by Reus.
The two teams traded baskets for almost the entirety of the fourth, with the margin going back-and-forth between six and eight points, until the 3:20 point of the fourth quarter when a Reus fast-break layup pushed the Lobos in front by nine at 63-54. An and-one opportunity for LaTora extended the lead to double digits at 12, the largest separation to that point, and the Lobos scored the final six points of the game on a LaTascya three-pointer and a Reus layup, with the freshman finishing the and-one at the line for the 15-point lead and final points of the game.
LaTora added eight more points in the fourth quarter, followed by De La Cerda with six and LaTascya and Reus with five each. The Lobos shot 62.5 percent in the final 10 minutes, their best quarter field-goal percentage in the game.
With the win, the Lobos improve to 20-6 on the season, 11-2 in conference. It is the third time in head coach Mike Bradbury’s tenure at UNM that the Lobos have reached 20 wins in a season.
Also of note, the Lobos are now 6-0 following a loss, 2-0 in conference play.
Up next for New Mexico: the Lobos travel to Nevada for their lone meeting with Nevada this season, set for Saturday, Feb. 12 at 12:30 p.m. PT/ 1:30 p.m. MT.
- The Lobos shot 57.1% (8-14) from the field in the first quarter and held the Falcons to just 25% (5-20) shooting.
- The Falcons were held to 29.7% from the field in the first half in total.
- De La Cerda became the Lobos’ first player in double-figures with 4:21 to go in the first half.
- The Lobos’ De La Cerda made as many three-point baskets (3) in the first half as the entire Falcons team combined (3).
- The Lobos retook the lead with 4:34 to go in the third quarter and led the rest of the way.
- The Lobos had four players in double-figures in the game: Tora Duff (25 points), De La Cerda (19 points), Tay Duff (10 points), Reus (10 points).
- The Lobos went on a 16-2 run over 8:08 of the first half to build a 10-point lead.
- The Lobos’ Tora Duff set a new career-high for points in a game with 25 points.
- The Lobos’ Tora Duff also attempted (21) and made (10) the most field goals of her collegiate career.
- Tay Duff set a new Lobos’ program record for consecutive games with a three-pointer made with 28 games.
- The Lobos’ Reus scored all 10 of her points in the game in the second half on perfect shooting from the field (4-4).
Jaedyn De La Cerda