Lobos Advance to WNIT Round Three with Win Over San Diego Sunday
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— This time of year, the phrase is survive and advance, as each team that partakes in the postseason is fighting to keep their season alive.
Behind four Lobos in double figures and a double-double from Shaiquel McGruder, her seventh of the season, the Lobo women’s basketball team survived a late run by San Diego in the fourth quarter and found a way to advance to the third round of the WNIT with a 73-69 win.
Antonia Anderson, LaTascya Duff and McGruder all finished with 16 points, while Jaedyn De La Cerda added 14 points. McGruder had a full stat line, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds and had five steals and a block. It was the second-straight game that McGruder tallied five steals, finishing with six in the first round against Grand Canyon.
Entering the respective games, GCU and USD both led the NCAA in steals with the Toreros also second in steals per game, but it was UNM who finished with the most steals, with UNM recording 12 to USD’s four. Anderson, De La Cerda and Aniyah Augmon were each credited with two steals, while Duff had one steal.
UNM also forced a total of 17 turnovers against the Toreros, turning that into 21 points compared to nine for USD, and also held the advantage in fast-break points by a margin of 18-9.
After both teams turned the ball over on shot clock violations on their first possession, LaTora Duff got the scoring going with a three-pointer, with the Lobos eventually scoring the first five points on two McGruder free-throws. A LaTascya three-pointer stretched the lead to six at 8-2, but the Toreros closed the gap to take a 9-8 lead. McGruder regained the lead for the Lobos with a layup, to which USD tied the game a minute later on a free throw. A Kath van Bennekom layup created another tie at 12 with 53 seconds remaining before USD scored on its final possession for a 14-12 lead through the first quarter.
There was a total of two ties and three lead changes in the first quarter, with UNM leading for 6:16 of it and USD for 51 seconds of it.
USD extended its lead to six in the second quarter, but the Lobos responded with two baskets from van Bennekom to cut the lead back down to two, and got it back within one on a three-pointer by LaTascya that made it 27-26 with 2:28 left in the quarter. Following another USD shot clock violation, a LaTascya layup pushed the Lobos back in front, and on the ensuing possession, Augmon got in the passing lane to deflect the ball, diving on the ground to push the ball ahead for De La Cerda to collect and take it to the basket for a layup and 30-27 lead.
The Lobos held the Toreros off the board for the final 1:07 to take the three-point lead into the break.
LaTascya scored eight of UNM’s 18 points in the second quarter, while McGruder had two steals and Augmon three steals in the second. McGruder had 10 rebounds and six points at the break.
An Anderson three-pointer opened the third quarter to stretch the lead to six, with the Lobos eventually going on an 11-0 run over the span of 1:57 to turn a four-point lead at 35-31 to a 46-31 lead, capped by a McGruder steal and transition three from De La Cerda. Anderson accounted for six points in the run to go with a De La Cerda three and layup.
San Diego answered with three-straight points to end the run, and got back within 11, but De La Cerda closed the quarter with a layup with five seconds remaining for the 54-41 lead through three quarters.
Anderson scored 11 points in the quarter, going 5-for-6 from the floor, to go with four rebounds and a block, as the Lobos outscored USD 24-14 with 50.0 percent shooting from the floor. UNM forced three steals in the quarter and four total turnovers, scoring seven points from those opportunities.
The Lobos led by as many as 17 with 4:52 left in the game, but the Toreros chipped away at the lead, ultimately tying the game with 1:10 left on two free-throws. However, the Lobos didn’t panic, and promptly broke the press, found LaTascya on the wing, who drained the three to put the Lobos back up. USD answered with a jumper to make it a one-point game with 45 seconds remaining, but again, the Lobos scored on the following possession, this time a McGruder layup to maintain the lead.
UNM’s defense came through with a stop, with Anderson credited with a steal, and after USD was forced to foul, McGruder calmly made two free-throws to push the lead to five with 19 seconds on the clock. USD scored with seven seconds left after getting the offensive board to cut the lead down to three, but De La Cerda iced the game at the line with a free throw for the 73-69 score. USD threw up a three on its final possession, missing everything as the horn sounded and the Lobos walked off with the win.
After USD tied the game at 65, the Lobos outscored the Toreros 8-4 in the final 1:10.
McGruder closed with eight points in the final quarter, while Anderson added five to go with a block and a steal, scoring all 16 points in the final two quarters.
With the win, UNM tied the program for most wins in a single season with 26 wins and is 26-9 on the season. UNM will face Oregon State in the third round after the Beavers defeated Portland 74-56 on Sunday. It is the fifth time in program history that the Lobos have advanced to the third round of the WNIT.
Head Coach Mike Bradbury
Jaedyn De La Cerda