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Lobos Fall to Rams in MW Semifinal

LAS VEGAS, Nev.— LaTora Duff led the Lobos with 22 points and six three-pointers and the Lobos had four players finish in double figures, but New Mexico couldn’t mount a rally in the Mountain West semifinals, falling to Colorado State 82-71 on Tuesday.

Shaiquel McGruder had 14 second-half points, going 7-for-7 from the free-throw line, LaTascya Duff finished with 11 that included three, three-pointers and Jaedyn De La Cerda finished with 10 points in the contest. McGruder led the team with seven rebounds and two blocks with LaTora and De La Cerda tying for the team lead with five assists.

The Rams opened the contest with a three-pointer on their first possession, and De La Cerda evened the score on a jumper, drawing a foul in the process, and converting at the line to tie the game. However, CSU went on a 5-0 run that the Lobos couldn’t answer, falling behind by as many as six in the opening quarter at 12-6 and 14-8 before the quarter ended with the Lobos trailing by five.

UNM pulled within one on a Paula Reus layup and De La Cerda jumper to open the second, but the Lobos couldn’t find the go-ahead basket before CSU went on another run to stretch the margin to seven almost midway through the quarter. Trailing 27-21 with 2:55 left in the quarter, UNM found a little rhythm from distance led by LaTora, who hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit in half, and Kath van Bennekom, who came off the bench and drained a three to bring the Lobos within two with 1:48 remaining. Both teams traded three-pointers down the stretch with the Lobos trailing 32-30 at the break.

Out of the break, the Lobos got two consecutive defensive stops but couldn’t convert on the other end to tie or take a lead, and CSU gained further separation with a 6-0 run to lead 38-30. A LaTascya three-pointer and foul, with the senior converting at the line, sparked a 6-0 Lobo run that got the Lobos within four points with 5:11 in the quarter, with the Lobos again pulling within four on a Reus jumper with 4:08 on the clock, but the Rams regained the momentum, closing the quarter with an 12-5 run to lead by 10 (56-46) at the end of the third.

After CSU opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, UNM answered with a 5-0 run to bring the margin back to single digits at 59-51, but CSU kept answering to prevent the comeback. UNM attempted to get back in the game with three-pointers, with LaTascya, De La Cerda and McGruder each making three-pointers to close back within single digits, but there just wasn’t enough time or possessions remaining to close the gap any further with UNM having to foul to extend the game and CSU converting at the free-throw line.

UNM made six three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, matching what CSU made in the entire game. The Lobos finished with 12 three-pointers as a team and had a better shooting percentage from three, but couldn’t find an answer for points in the paint with CSU scoring 40 points in the paint.