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UNM Offense Rolls to 20-Point Win Against GCU to Open WNIT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The Lobo women’s basketball team was back at home in The Pit on Wednesday night for the first round of the WNIT, and the offense was efficient in a 92-72 win over Grand Canyon that had plenty of noteworthy moments.

Wednesday was the fourth time this season that New Mexico has scored 90-plus points, but the first time since 2019 that UNM has had three 20-point scorers. LaTascya Duff recorded a season- and game-high 27 points, making seven three-pointers for the second time this season, followed by Jaedyn De La Cerda with 22 points with four three-pointers. Shaiquel McGruder finished with 20 points, with De La Cerda, Duff and McGruder all making nine baskets in the game. Throughout the season, the Lobos have had a player score 20-plus points in a game 26 times, including in the last nine games and 10 of the last 11 games.

LaTora Duff tallied a near triple-double with a game-high 13 assists, the third time this season that the Lobo point guard dished out double-digit assists and grabbed a game- and career-high nine rebounds to go with eight points.

UNM assisted on 27 of its 34 baskets with seven different Lobos recording at least one assist and the three-pointers were falling with UNM finishing with 14 made three-pointers, shooting 46.7 percent from three and 51.5 percent from the floor.

Entering the game, GCU was holding opponents to 60.0 points per game, but the Lobos quickly threatened that with 28 points in the first 10 minutes and 52 points at the half.

The start of the game was back-and-forth with two ties and four lead changes before the media timeout with 3:35 remaining. However, the Lobos came out of the break and scored the next five points behind an Antonia Anderson three-pointer and a De La Cerda jumper that turned a 15-13 lead to 20-13. UNM closed in the last 35 seconds with consecutive three-pointers from LaTora and LaTascya with LaTora assisting LaTascya on the last three-pointer for the 28-17 margin at the end of the first 10 minutes.

In the final 3:35, UNM outscored GCU 13-4 with the Lobos making their last three shots in the quarter.

De La Cerda led with seven points in the first quarter followed by six apiece from McGruder and Anderson as the Lobos made five three-pointers, shooting 55.6 percent and shot 55.0 percent from the floor.

The Lobos continued to build on their lead in the second quarter, with the margin reaching 17 on a McGruder layup with 6:56 left in the quarter, growing the lead to 20 points on a De La Cerda three-pointer off of a McGruder offensive board with 2:29 left that made it 47-27. Another LaTascya three stretched the lead to 23 and an exchange of baskets as the quarter came to a close kept the difference at 23 at the break, 52-29.

LaTascya took over in the second quarter, going 3-for-5 from three and added two free throws for 11 points in the quarter, with UNM outscoring GCU 24-12 in the quarter. The Lobos also outscored the Lopes 12-2 in points off of turnovers, with the Lobos forcing eight turnovers and four steals.

By the half, UNM had three scorers already in double figures, led by 16 from LaTascya, 12 from McGruder and 10 from De La Cerda. LaTora had seven assists and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes and McGruder had three of her season-high six steals.

The break didn’t stop the Lobos’ scoring, as UNM extended the lead to 27 (67-40) and 31 (75-44), both on  LaTascya three-pointers, with 31 being the final point differential at the end of the third at 79-48.

De La Cerda scored 10 points in the quarter with the Lobos outscoring the Lopes 27-19 and shooting 71.4 percent on 10-for-14 shooting and 4-for-5 from three-point range. LaTascya was a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor with two three-pointers for eight points and LaTora added five assists to her total.

The Lopes cut into the lead, whittling it down to 23, but the Lobos responded with a McGruder layup and two LaTora free throws to push the lead back up to 27. The lead never faltered below 20 points as the final seconds ticked away and the Lobos ran out the clock with a 92-72 win.

Defensively, the Lobos held GCU’s leading scorer, Amara Graham, scoreless in the first two quarters and to just 2-of-8 shooting from three-point range. UNM held the Lope below her season average, with Graham finishing with five points. Additionally, while GCU entered the game leading the NCAA in steals and was third in steals per game (12.9), UNM finished with more steals (8-5) with McGruder recording six steals alone in the contest.

Also of note, the Lobos earned their 25th win of the season, the second time in Head Coach Mike Bradbury’s tenure at UNM that the Lobos have reached 25 wins. The 2017-18 team also won 25 games.

The Lobos advance to the second round of the WNIT and it has already been determined that the Lobos will host either San Diego or California Baptist on Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. MT. Tickets for the game will go on sale on Thursday morning, and the game will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.

Head Coach Mike Bradbury

LaTora Duff and LaTascya Duff