Shaiquel McGruder and LaTascya Duff Lead Lobos Past Wildcats
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— Behind a stellar all-around performance by Shaiquel McGruder and a hot-shooting LaTascya Duff, the Lobos withstood an Abilene Christian run in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game to emerge victorious by a score of 71-61.
McGruder was unstoppable on both ends of the floor, finishing 9-for-9 from the floor and added five free throws for a game-high 23 points to go along with a game-high 13 rebounds, a game-high four steals and a game-high five blocks.
It was the 11th career double-double for the Lobo forward, the third this season, as well as the seventh-straight game with multiple blocks and second game this season with five, and the sixth game with multiple steals.
While McGruder was piling up points in the paint, Duff was a force from three, making five three-pointers for her sixth game this season with multiple three-pointers, her third game with four or more made threes and her 46th career game as a Lobo with multiple three-pointers. She finished with 19 points and added two steals, two assists and three rebounds.
Four Lobos ultimately finished in double figures, with Paula Reus tallying 11 points to go with eight rebounds that included a pivotal offensive board, and Amaya Brown reaching with 10 points.
New Mexico scored the first eight points of the game with Duff accounting for six on back-to-back three-pointers to go with a Reus layup. ACU pulled within three at 8-5, but the Lobos responded with a 7-0 run that included a layup by Brown, a layup by McGruder and a LaTora Duff three-pointer that pushed the lead to 10 at 15-5. The margin reached 11 at 21-10 on a Brown layup off of a steal, with the Lobos leading 24-16 through the first quarter.
LaTascya opened the game with nine quick points on three, three-pointers, with McGruder at six points and McGruder and Brown recording two steals each.
Three-straight made free throws by McGruder stretched the lead to 13 at 35-22 with 4:27 left in the second quarter, with the double-digit lead holding steady for the next 3:17 before ACU got within nine (37-28) on a free throw for the final points of the quarter.
The Lobos led for the entirety of the first 20 minutes, but the Wildcats came out of the break with a 9-2 run that cut the lead to two at 39-37. The Lobos had an answer 10 seconds later on a McGruder fast-break layup assisted by LaTora, with McGruder drawing the foul and converting the and-one opportunity to push the lead back to two possessions at 42-37. LaTora finished with a game-high eight assists and had five rebounds, the fifth-straight game with five rebounds and the seventh time this season.
However, Abilene Christian had another run that amounted to 7-2 to tie the game at 44 and took its first and only lead of the game at 47-46. The lead lasted all of 10 seconds as LaTascya made a three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining in the third to put the Lobos back in front. Following a McGruder block and Reus rebound, LaTascya missed a three-pointer but Reus grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back up as time expired to give UNM the 51-47 lead through three. It was Reus’ only points of the quarter, but the Lobo grabbed five rebounds in the quarter while playing all 10 minutes.
Momentum continued into the fourth with LaTascya hitting a three-pointer to open the scoring, Brown added two free throws and McGruder added another layup to push the lead back to 11 at 58-47. From the point that ACU took a lead, the Lobos answered with a 5-0 run to close the third quarter and a 7-0 run to open the fourth.
A jumper from LaTascya with 2:58 left in the game made it an 11-point game at 66-55 and the lead stayed in double digits for the remainder of the contest.
Brown closed with six points in the final 10 minutes and LaTascya added five final points, with McGruder registering six rebounds and two blocks. In the final 20 minutes, McGruder had 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks and played the entire 20 minutes.
On the night, the Lobos had an advantage in points from turnovers (15-7), fast-break points (17-7), field-goal percentage (43.9-39.7) and three-point percentage (33.3-31.6). The Lobos also had eight blocks and nine steals, leading in each of those categories.
Up next: UNM hosts New Mexico State on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 2 p.m.
– New Mexico had four players in double-digit scoring in the game: McGruder (23 points [9-9 from the field]), LaTascya Duff (19 points), Paula Reus (11 points), Amaya Brown (10 points).
-New Mexico went on a 12-0 run over the final 53 seconds of the third quarter and the first 2:26 of the fourth quarter to build an 11-point lead.
- Second half percentages:
- The Lobos shot 44.4% (12-27) from the field.
- The Lobos shot 80% (8-10) from the free throw line.
-McGruder recorded her third double-double of the season with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
-New Mexico recorded eight blocks and nine steals in the game as a team.
-The Lobos have had five or more blocks in the last seven games. Wednesday’s game tied for the second-most blocks in a game this season.
– Five different players recorded a steal with LaTascya and McGruder having multiple steals.
-Four different players recorded a block, with McGruder leading with five.
-LaTora Duff led the Lobos in assists in the game with eight. She also finished with five rebounds, the fifth-straight game with five rebounds and the seventh time this season.